KARACHI: Authorities raided offices of Maersk Lines and United Marines Agency (UMA) to arrest their high-ups but could not apprehend anyone from their premises.
Sources said NAB authorities had raided offices of the UMA to arrest their high-ups in tax evasion and illegal demurrage and detention scam cases. These both above-mentioned companies are allegedly involved in multi-billion dollar corruption, tax evasion and illegal demurrage and detention scam cases. Due to such illegal activities the business community had asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to take action in a mega mis-declaration scam at Karachi ports with active connivance of Sohail Shams of M/s United Marine Agencies (UMA), an agent of shipping line KMTC. Business community also sought arrest of UMA CEO Sohail Shams and high-ups of UMA, shipping agent of KMTC as they are alleged to be directly involved in this huge scam of clearing consignments through mis-declarations, causing heavy loss to the national exchequer, by misusing yellow and green channel facilities at Karachi ports.
According to details, Collectorate of Appraisement East led by Collector Nadeem Memon had registered two FIRs against a company and others who attempted to clear restricted goods through mis-declaration with active connivance of Sohail Shams of M/s United Marine Agencies (UMA), an agent of shipping line KMTC. Customs Today has been extensively reporting about blackmailing of UMA, shipping agent of KMTC and demanding additional demurrage and detention charges from importers. Even importers had filed various applications to lodge FIRs against these shipping lines and their agents including CEO of United Marine Agencies Sohail Shams for demanding additional demurrage and detention charges from importers.
It is pertinent to mention here that Customs Today has extensively covered alleged mega scams worth billions of rupees of these both above-mentioned companies where they were illegally charging huge demurrage and detention charges and bleeding the nation. These companies were allegedly evading sales tax worth billions in connivance with Sindh Revenue Board (SRB) and inflicting huge loss on the national exchequer. NAB had taken up the case against Maersk Pakistan and Aruna Hussain, new CEO of Maersk Pakistan, could also be included in the inquiry process by the NAB. She has taken the charge sometime back but the company has not amended its alleged illegal activities under her supervision so the NAB could also summon her in this mega shipping scam case. There is a huge concern that even after so much coverage by media and so many complaints by importers, these companies are escaping accountability.
Sources said these companies modus operandi is similar locally and globally where they are involved in large scale corruption, tax evasion and mis-declarations. But institutions like FBR and Ministries like Ports and Shipping are reluctant to take action against them. After huge scams in Pakistan, Maersk recently confirmed that its offices in Brazil have been raided by police in connection with the long-running corruption investigation known as Operation Car Wash. Brazilian prosecutors have accused Maersk of paying about $3.4 million in bribes to Petrobras employees in connection with procurement of 11 shipping contracts, which were collectively worth about $140 million.
Maerk shipping company is reportedly involved in multi-billion tax evasion cases in Pakistan but still no action is taken against the company. The complaint received by the NAB demanded legal action for recoveries of amounts looted and recovering losses of Rs. 610 billion to the national exchequer per year while also stopping such further losses from the accused persons of these companies including Søren Skou, Claus V. Hemmingsen, Søren Toft, Vincent Clercp, Morten H. Engelstoft, others of Maersk Line; Arslan Khan, Gazanfar 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.
Similarly authorities are after Maersk officials in Brazil as well. “The situation that led to the search in the case of Maersk is that, in addition to directing contracts, we were able to verify that Maersk chose to hire a totally inexperienced broker, without any prior link with the performance in the sector. Why would such a large company do something so awkward?” said Brazilian federal prosecutor Marcelo Ribeiro at a press conference in Curitiba.
Claus V. Hemmingsen
Even in Pakistan, Maersk shipping company’s modus operandi is similar, they are blackmailing importers through illegal holding & blocking of their imported goods for the sake of demanding additional demurrage and detention charges. After importers complaint, Model Customs Collectorate of Preventive, Karachi had issued a notice to M/s Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd as it started the process to cancel license of the company for sheer violation of the Customs Act 1969 and SRO 1220(I)/2015. In a move to cancel the licenses of these companies, importers had written a letter to Chief Collector Enforcement and Collector Customs Preventive to take necessary legal action against Maersk Line and its subsidiary Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd for violating SRO 1220 (I)/2015.
In Brazil, Ribiero said that Petrobras’ former head of refining and supply, Paolo Roberto Costa, received a share of a Maersk-connected shipbroker’s commission as part of the alleged arrangement. Twelve search and seize warrants were carried out, prosecutors said, in order to further their investigation. In the case of Maersk, the company used a brokerage that passed bribes to a Petrobras director, who has been actively assisting authorities in their investigation, prosecutors alleged.
Finally the NAB had started inquiries against Maersk and UMA and raided the offices of the UMA to arrest CEO Sohail Shams. It is hoped that NAB Chairman Justice (R) Javed Iqbal while keeping up to his excellent reputation of ‘Accountability for all’ would not succumb to the favours and pressures of the influential while taking these inquiries to the logical end and recovering billions of rupees of looted money from these powerful companies.