Evidence surfaces on Licenses of KMTC, United Marine, Evergreen, Greenpak to be cancelled
KARACHI: Evidence has surfaced on ban of cargo delivery at Pakistani ports of specific shipping lines as Customs Preventive has started procedure to cancel their licenses under Section 14A of the Customs Act 1969 and under rules 603 (Q), 603 (R), 604 (Q) and 607 (E), others of SRO 1220 (I)/2015.
Sources said corrupt shipping line KMTC, its agents United Marine Agencies (Pvt) Ltd and Evergreen Line and its agents GreenPak Shipping are blackmailing genuine importers through illegal holding of their imported goods for the sake of demanding additional demurrage and detention charges in violation of relevant customs laws.
UMA and Greenpak circulated emails on social media vehemently stating that their licenses are not yet cancelled. Even KMTC circulated its letter on social media asserting “There is no doubt that KMTC’s all services from/to Pakistan are normally operating at this moment”. But in these emails and letters neither UMA or Greenpak or KMTC could deny that they are facing lodging of FIRs and also that procedures have been initiated at Customs preventive department regarding cancellation of their licenses. Also, they talked in terms of ‘at the moment’ instead of at least assuring their customers on the near future in the event of cancellation of their licenses. It is pertinent to mention here that the shippers are more interested to know about what will happen to their goods if they load them today on these vessels and in the near future require delivery of those goods at Pakistan ports. Whether they will be able to get the goods delivered at Pakistan ports in the event of cancellation of the licenses of these companies which is under process now with Customs preventive.
Customs Today tried to repeatedly contact relevant persons from UMA and Greenpak for their versions on the issue. But the staff of these companies kept on dodging the specific questions put up to them and also kept on transferring the discussions from one person to another and then another. In fact, even when contacted Shabana Yasmeen of UMA under whose name the version of UMA was circulated on social media then she refused to talk and directed to talk to one Mr. Ausaf. To most of the questions put up to them, they showed their ignorance on it. In fact, when asked a very important question to Babar Feroze of Greenpak, under whose name email was circulating on social media, regarding what will happen to containers already loaded on vessels in the event their license is cancelled then he replied that only Allah knows and he does not know about them. Sources said though these shipping lines are vehemently denying and saying their licenses are not yet cancelled but importers of Pakistan should be careful for booking their containers with these shipping lines which would not be allowed to call their ships on ports in the event of cancellation of their licenses. When licenses are cancelled of these shipping lines then the goods loaded on them would have to be called at transit locations like Dubai, Singapore, etc. instead of reaching Karachi ports.
Sources said at least 30 newspapers and TV channels, several chambers and lawyers have taken up the issue of blackmailing by these shipping lines, their agents and PICT. Specifically KCCI President Muffasar Atta Malik, President Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industries Zahid Ullah W Shinwari, President of Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) Zia ul Haq Sarhadi, President Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry Fauzia Inayat, President Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Malik Asrar Ahmad Awan, Former President MCCI Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Vice President Zeshan Khalil, Former President MCCI Khawaja Muhammad Usman, former president Lahore Tax Bar Association (LTBA) Qamar Uz Zaman, senior Advocates Peshawar High Court (PHC) Noor Alam Khan and Mohib Kakakheil also voiced their concern on continuous blackmailing by shipping companies and causing huge losses to the importers. Media is not targeting any shipping Cos but this is a national issue faced by hundreds of thousands importers across the country.
Referring to relevant laws, President KCCI pointed out 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) but this law is grossly being violated by shipping lines and their agents. He said that according to Customs Act, 1969, the port cannot charge any demurrage or detention charges if Customs gives a certificate to importer titled ‘Delay and Detention Certificate’. But despite this certificate, Terminal Operators illegally hold goods of importers and charges heavy amounts as demurrage. President KCCI pointed out that importers are suffering heavy losses each day because of delay in release of imported goods, besides losing their reputation and also their valuable customers on many occasions.
President Multan Chamber said the Chamber has been receiving frequent complaints against unnecessary delay in the clearance of their import shipments and additional charges taken by PICT and shipping lines under the head of demurrage and detention against the set law.
President KP WCCI Fauzia Inayat said the shipping companies and terminal operator should be treated with iron hands in order to stop billions of rupees losses to importers. Evil lords in the shipping lines and terminal operator charge hidden charges from importers which is against the customs laws and rules stated out by federal board of revenue.
President PAJCCI Zia ul Haq Sarhadi said he received several complaints regarding cases of corruption by shipping companies, their agents, and terminal operator, causing loss of billions of rupees to importers and the national exchequer. He expressed grief over fraud of customs authorities and terminal operators for taking extra demurrage and detention charges from importers who import goods to Pakistan and are looted harshly by the evil lords present in shipping lines and terminal operators.
President SCCI snubbed the Customs authorities and the shipping companies for deceiving the importers by stopping their legally imported consignments at port. The corruption in shipping has been very critical and the government has to do everything in order to facilitate the importers and remove the extra charges received from the importers even after producing delay and detention certificates.
Former President MCCI Khawaja Muhammad Usman said corruption of shipping companies also erodes the trust necessary to build healthy business environment for importers. The Federal Board of Revenue must take notice on demand of additional demurrage and detention charges from genuine importers, inflicting billions of losses to the national exchequer.
Former president LTBA Qamar uz Zaman urged the newly-elected government of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) to take serious action against corrupt shipping companies and Customs officials those are involved in the violation of SRO 1220 and Section 14A of Customs Act 1969.
Sohail Shams CEO United Marine Agencies
Meanwhile, in a move to cancel the licenses of KMTC and their agents UMA, Evergreen and their agents GreenPak, customs preventive through Assistant Collector Licensing Hameer Khan has already written letters to various importers to provide GD copies of goods that are illegally held by these shipping lines and are violating SRO 1220 (I)/ 2015 and section 14A of the Customs Act, 1969. In fact, the owners, managers, staff of KMTC, UMA, Evergreen, Greenpak and also of port terminals like PICT face NAB, FIA enquiries for their alleged criminal acts of holding back the goods of importers of Pakistan while also facing 7 years imprisonment if convicted under sections 34, 407, 409, 420, 506 of Pakistan Penal Code as per applications already received by Jackson police station.
Customs Today has already procured copies of the multiple letters issued by Customs Preventive department while pursuing to cancel licenses and also of various FIR application copies received by the police station. Assistant Collector Licensing, Hameer Khan in a letter dated 24 August 2018 reference No S2/Misc/12/2018-Lic (P) sent to an importer wrote in the subject line as: 100% of demurrage and detention u/s 14A of the Customs Act 1969 while placing penalty u/s 156 (I) 7A of the Customs Act, 1969 and also cancelation of license of United Marine Agencies (Pvt) Ltd under rules 603 (Q), 603 (R), 604 (Q) and 607 (E), others under SRO 1220 (I)/2015. Mentioning “….Please provide copies of required documents early so as to proceed in the matter.”
Corruption of these corrupt shipping lines have shocked millions of importers across Pakistan as their businesses are at stake due to illegal demands of additional demurrage and detention charges and looting them mercilessly. They were already losing billions of rupees due to these corrupt shipping lines and now if these shipping lines’ licenses are cancelled then importers could not get their goods already loaded on these vessels.
Sources said such corrupt shipping companies are allegedly involved in Rs 610 billion mega scandal and their licenses could be cancelled for violating the set rules & laws. These shipping lines and their agents are deliberately holding the containers for minting illegal money and causing huge losses to the national exchequer by slowing down of revenue generation.
According to the documents available, 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 Agencies Sohail Shams, COO PICT Khurram Aziz Khan and Chairman Marine Group Capt. Haleem Siddiqui, for demanding additional demurrage and detention charges from importer.
Haleem Siddiqui Chairmain Marine Group
Sources stressed that these shipping lines and their agents cannot demand additional demurrage and detention charges under SRO 1220(I)/2015 and Section 14A of the Customs Act, 1969.
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). Section 14A of the Customs Act, 1969 says the port (like PICT port) cannot charge any demurrage or detention charges if Customs gives a ‘delay and detention certificate’ to importer. But despite this certificate, KMTC and its agents hold goods of importers and charge them heavy amounts as detention.
Business community has further urged the importers of Pakistan to provide GD copies of their consignments to Customs preventive department that are blocked by any port terminal or by any shipping lines or their agents merely on the pretext of demurrage or detention charges. Also, business community has alerted all the importers loading their goods on these specific vessels to be careful as their goods would not reach Pakistan when the licenses of these shipping lines or their agents are cancelled or suspended.