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Rs15b detention scam: PICT threatens importer to cause financial/physical damage

Rs15b detention scam: PICT threatens importer to cause financial/physical damage

KARACHI: An importer has snubbed shipping lines, their agents and terminal operator including Evergreen Line, Greenpak Shipping, United Marine Agencies, KMTC and PICT who instead of resolving the issue of additional demmurage and detention, kept on blackmailing importers through legal notices and publishing news on an unregistered website.

In his letter written to PICT, the importer exposed the malafide of the terminal as they circulated the legal notice as PR to media as press release. The officials of these shipping lines, their agents and terminal operator including Deputy MD of Greenpak Abdul Rauf, CEO of United Marine Agency Sohail Shams, COO PICT Khurram Aziz Khan and Chairman Marine Group Capt. Haleem Siddiqui who was once director of PICT, took protection of an ‘illiterate’ person for saving themselves against their own malpractices.

The importer revealed that the PICT through its legal notice threatened him to cause financial/physical damage. “Instead of addressing our grievance, you have stooped to defame us by carrying false stories and rumours against us through an ‘illegal’ website and then quoting the same to us in your legal notice as grounds for prosecution whereas your initial act of carrying such false stories was itself illegal and criminal in nature,” the letter said.

The importer further said in his letter, “The website you (PICT) have quoted is claimed by an ‘illiterate’ who cannot even write in English. Your involvement in the false story is clear by the fact that your cited story has the credit of this ‘illiterate’ person who, as already mentioned, does not even know to write in English. He cannot even spell the word of the Customs department properly and spells it wrongly as ‘custom’. Your lobby has taken support of such an ‘illiterate’ person so as to defame us instead of addressing our grievances under the law.”

The importer submitted that though the PICT management tried to mention about position of customs department, which is also incorrect, but have failed to mention about their own stance on their readiness to deliver the goods with 100% waiver of demurrage/detention by abiding to section 14A of the Customs Act, 1969 and SRO 1220 (I)/2015. Section 14A of the Customs Act, 1969 says the port (like PICT port) cannot charge any demurrage or detention charges if Customs gives a certificate to importer called the ‘delay and detention certificate’. But despite this certificate, PICT illegally holds goods of importers and charges them heavy amounts as demurrage.

Haleem-Siddiqui

Haleem Siddiqui, Chairman Marine Group

 

The importer said Customs department has already assessed the goods u/s 80 of the Customs Act, 1969 and he is waiting for approval of 100% waiver of demurrage/detention under section 14A and SRO 1220 (I)/2015 by shipping lines & terminal operator. Law under SRO 1220(I)/ 2015 explains that shipping companies cannot charge any demurrage and detention where specifically it is not agreed and also specifically not mentioned on the B/L (Bill of lading).

“Note that your billing has no concern whatsoever with the customs department and irrespective of the actions of the customs department your billing department is bound by law, as mentioned above, to make the billing amount as zero and remove the hold of your billing department on the consignments which please proceed as per law so that we can take back our goods given to you as trust. Failing this, law will take its course against your owners, managers, staff under sections 34, 407, 409, 427, 506, others of PPC and also under 156(1) 7A of the Customs Act, 1969 and all other prevalent laws of Pakistan despite your show of strength and heavy weight,” the letter said.

The importer stated, ‘we have submitted applications to various forums formed under the law for addressing our grievances including the local police station, customs authorities, etc. KCCI has also realised the illegality of the container terminals and shipping lines on ‘blackmailing’ and charging illegal amounts of demurrage and detention charges’.

“More than 25-30 media houses woke up on the issue while collecting copies of these applications/KCCI press release and have covered the issue respectively. We are totally at a loss to understand that under what law and what authority vested in us that you are asking us to stop the media houses from covering the issue. This demand by you is both illegal and ridiculous,” the letter concluded.

It is important to mention here that some importers have already filed 13 applications to lodge FIRs against these shipping lines and their agents including Deputy MD of Greenpak Abdul Rauf, CEO of United Marine Agency Sohail Shams, COO PICT Khurram Aziz Khan and Chairman Marine Group Capt. Haleem Siddiqui, for demanding additional demurrage and detention charges from importers.

A complaint filed by importers said, “They, through their shipper/agents in China, handed the goods to KMTC Ltd. as trust to be delivered and released here at PICT, Karachi. The shipping lines nominated M/S United Marine Agencies (Private) Limited as their agents at Karachi for the same while the company PICT Ltd. took custody of the goods as trust at PICT port, Karachi. Importers also long back paid in full to the shipping lines the ocean freight charges as agreed between the parties. But despite repeated reminders and visiting office of M/S United Marine Agencies (Private) Limited and of PICT Ltd., they did not release the goods yet”.

Importers further said, “The actions of KMTC Ltd. through its owners, management and staff including but not limited to Jong Seug Park, Yong Hwa Shin, others and of M/S United Marine Agencies (Private) Limited through its owners, management and staff including but not limited to Manzoor Ahmed, Lars Tore Bergstrom, Lars Goran Safverstrom, Mohammad A Dhamee, Sohail Shams, Rishad Kirmani, Mohsin Lodhi, others and of PICT Ltd. through its owners, management and staff including but not limited to Haleem Siddiqui, Christian R. Gonzalez, Roman Felipe S. Reyes, Aasim Azim Siddiqui, Rafael D. Consing Jr., Gordon Alan P Joseph, Hans-Ole Madsen, Sharique Azim Siddiqui, Khurram Aziz Khan, Muhammad Hunain, Junaid Qureshi, Shujaat Hussain, others, individually and jointly, tantamount to conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating, mischief to cause losses, threatening, etc. which attract penal sections under PPC 34, 407, 409, 420, 427, 506, besides others.”

In another similar complaint, “Importers firm, through their shipper, handed the goods to Evergreen Line as trust to be delivered and released to them here at PICT, Karachi. The shipping lines nominated M/S Greenpak Shipping (Private) Limited as their agents at Karachi for the same while the company PICT Ltd. took custody of the goods as trust at PICT port, Karachi. Importers also long back paid in full to the shipping lines the ocean freight charges as agreed between the parties. But despite repeated reminders and visiting office of M/S Greenpak Shipping (Private) Limited and of PICT Ltd., they did not release the goods yet”.

Importers said, “The actions of Evergreen Line through its owners, management and staff including but not limited to Chang Cheng-Yung, Chang Kuo-Hua, Chang Kuo- Ming, Ko Lee-Ching, Lee Mong-Jye, Hsieh Huey-Chuan, others and of M/S Greenpak Shipping (Private) Limited through its owners, management and staff including but not limited to Javed Iqbal, Mohammad Reza Ghaem Maghami, Safdar Hussain Mehkri, Syed Qamar ul Hasan, Abdul Hamid, others and of PICT Ltd. through its owners, management and staff including but not limited to Haleem Siddiqui, Christian R. Gonzalez, Roman Felipe S. Reyes, Aasim Azim Siddiqui, Rafael D. Consing Jr., Gordon Alan P Joseph, Hans-Ole Madsen, Sharique Azim Siddiqui, Khurram Aziz Khan, Muhammad Hunain, Junaid Qureshi, Shujaat Hussain, others, individually and jointly, tantamount to conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating, mischief to cause losses, threatening, etc. which attract penal sections under PPC 34, 407, 409, 420, 427, 506, besides others.”