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Aruna Hussain, Soren, Maersk face FIA probe for hacking Customs Today website

Aruna Hussain, Soren, Maersk face FIA probe for hacking Customs Today website

KARACHI: The management of the Customs Today newspaper has decided to move the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for an investigation into the hacking of its website.

It is apparent that the news website has been hacked at the behest of Maersk Pakistan officials, including Aruna Hussain, Søren Skou and others, as Customs Today has carried a number of stories to expose the shipping company’s disregard for Pakistan laws, fleece importers in the name of demurrage and detention charges and tax evasion of billions of rupees every year. The hacking is also an attempt to silence the voice of importers and traders, who face huge financial losses at the hands of Maersk in the name of demurrage and detention charges.

Recently, Customs Today carried a report of complaints of traders and importers who said Maersk Pakistan, other shipping lines were not complying with government directives to facilitate them, causing huge financial losses to them and the country. They say Maersk and other shipping lines are creating obstacles to the clearance of shipments and are preventing businesses from running smoothly, causing great inconvenience and financial losses to them. They also accused Maersk of violating SRO 1220 and Section 14-A of Customs Act 1969, which clearly state that no demurrage or detention charges would be taken after issuance of delay and detention certificates by customs authorities but the shipping line demand and charge additional charges from importers against the customs laws and rules. Furthermore, under Rules 603 (Q), 603 (R), 604 (Q) and 607 (E), others of SRO 1220 (I)/2015, shipping lines, like Maersk, cannot charge any demurrage or detention charges where it is not specifically written on the Bill of Lading (B/L). But still in violation of the rules and laws, Maersk and other shipping lines fearlessly hold the containers of the importers and charge them exorbitant detention charges. The detention charges even exceed the actual cost of a container by a whopping 1000pc, they said.

The importers say Maersk blackmails and harasses them to collect hundreds of thousands of rupees for each consignment in connivance with officials of departments concerned. They even go to the extent of blocking the consignments even after the payment of duty and taxes and clearance by the customs department. The huge amounts looted from Pakistan are then sent abroad to foreign accounts. The estimated losses to Pakistan in this connection are a whopping Rs 610 billion annually. They have also written letters to President Dr Arif, Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, ministries and departments concerned to help save them from the exploitation of shipping lines like Maersk with MD Aruna Hussain. However, no substantial action has been taken against the rich and powerful accused.

In another news story covered by Customs Today, it was alleged that Maersk Pakistan Private Limited, including their owners, managers and staff werre making illegal money through malpractices and robbing the SRB of hundreds of billions of rupees by not paying sales tax on services offered at the rate of 13%. Maersk and other shipping lines are collecting local service charges from Pakistan customers and freely converting Pakistan rupees to US dollars and repatriating the amount, which is the gross abuse of foreign exchange laws of Pakistan. In this way, they are draining out valuable foreign reserves and causing the Pakistani currency to nosedive.

Experts say some multinationals, like Maersk, are involved in massive tax evasion, misdeclarations, causing heavy losses to the national exchequer, illegal demurrage and detention and multi-billion dollar corruption. The malpractices have affected Pakistan’s economy badly and pushed the country towards abject poverty. It finds itself in a debt trap, where it has to seek new loans to repay old debt. Maersk is also involved in multi-billion tax evasion in Pakistan but no action has been taken against the company. Estimates say port terminals and shipping lines cause a whopping Rs610 billion loss to the national exchequer every year. When it is minting billions of rupees from importers, tax evasion and other illegal practices every year, it is highly likely that Maersk and its MD Aruna Hussain are sending the ill-gotten money abroad through illegal channels and money laundering because they cannot use legal channels and banks for it. Businesspeople demand stern action against the company, so that the huge losses could be plugged and a strong warning is sent to other companies and individuals to stop them from their criminal activities.

The Customs Today is Pakistan’s first in-depth newspaper that presents balanced news, reports, analysis and reviews regarding customs, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), and Sales/Income Tax Departments besides covering import and export sectors comprehensively. The newspaper has been facing threats and arm twisting from officials of shipping companies, like Maersk, for exposing their criminal activities. However, it remained steadfast. Its website was also hacked several times in October 2020.

The Customs Today management has already lodged a complaint with the hosting service provider besides using services of Cloudflare to get security against such hacking attacks including safeguarding from DDoS, BOTs, etc.

The management has decided to lodge a complaint with the FIA against Søren Skou, Claus V. Hemmingsen, Søren Toft, Vincent Clercp, morten h. Engelstoft, others of Maersk Line and Arslan Khan, Aruna Hussain, Ghazanfar Khan, Raheel Salim, Maqsood ‪Ul Hasan Khan, Fuad Khan, Hasan Faraz, Shakeel Masih, Omer Khan, Ali Jawad Alvi, Zafar Iqbal, Ayesha Chowdhry, Zahid Hussain, Salman Ahmad, Aamir Ali, Umais Aziz Khan, Mohammed Naeem, Farheen Mahmud, Mubasshar Iqbal, Affaq Syed, Syed Mohammad Abbas Jafri, Muhammad Tanveer Sharif, Salman Ateeq, Hamza Haq, Ziad Mahboob, Aamir Ibrahim, Yasir Saeed Khan, Amal Sadiq Dawood, Effat Mehmood, Maria Urooj, Zain Warsi, Mehreen Zulfiqar, Awais Saleem, Zafar Iqbal, Syed Osman Iqbal Zaidi, Anum Yaqub, Fahad Ali, Obaid Iqbal, Zahid Hussain, Muhammad Ali Qureshi, Danish Siddiqui, Amir Arif, Arshad Ayub, Syed Mudassir Ali, Syed Hammad Hussain, Ayesha Qadri, Sheikh Samiullah, others of M/S Maersk Pakistan Private Limited and officials of audit and legal firms of Maersk Pakistan Private Limited.

The media house has expressed its hope that the FIA will soon book the culprits without fear or favour from the accused so that the rule of law reigns supreme.