KARACHI: Maersk Shipping Line’s CEO Søren Skou, Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd MD Aruna Hussain, DP World / QICT Chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, CEO Junaid Zamir and GM Cyrus Khursigara are allegedly involved in multi-billion dollars demurrage and detention scam case and they are bleeding the countrymen with additional demurrage and detention charges. They are reportedly facing Rs 400 billion worth cases before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
FBR and Customs Department advised shipping lines and terminal operators to waive demurrage and detention charges and give free extra time at ports due to Coronavirus disaster but shipping lines Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd and terminal operator DP World did not give any relief to importers and traders. Traders, Importers and Customs Agents said FBR and Customs Department miserably failed to implement the existing laws regarding demurrage and detention charges as companies like DP World and Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd have become a ‘shipping mafia’, only working to take benefit of these difficult times and looting the nation on Covid-19 disaster. CEOs and high-ups of DP World and Maersk including Junaid Zamir, Aruna Hussain and the accused benaami owner Habibullah Khan are reportedly not listening to the directives of the FBR and Customs Department. Now All City Traders Alliance President Sharjil Goplani has appealed to the President of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi for providing relief to importers for the waiver of detention and demurrage charges in difficult times of Coronavirus.
Sources said these companies are facing criminal case lodged against them in Pakistan. DP World controlled QICT terminal in Pakistan used to blackmail and harass genuine importers to pay illegal charges for clearance of their consignments. National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has already expedited such criminal cases against DP World / QICT and Maersk Pakistan where importers have asked the NAB to intervene in the issue and arrest Maersk Pakistan MD Aruna Hussain, DP World / QICT Chairman Sultan bin Sulayem, CEO Junaid Zameer, GM Cyrus Khursigara and alleged benaami owner Habibullah Khan for recovering the looted amount and giving relief in demurrage and detention charges and free time to traders. Now these traders and importers have requested the President of Pakistan to intervene in the issue and provide relief to the importers.
Discussing recent demurrage and detention issue in a letter to the President, Goplani appealed him to intervene to assist the importers of Pakistan by providing relief, saying that the documents cannot be released by the importers due to severe liquidity crunch and Coronavirus lockdowns. All means of commutation and transportation are shut down because of which no one can reach the bank to retire their import documents. It is highly difficult for them to get timely clearance of their cargo. There is almost no staff in the banks, customs offices and transporters offices due to which the documents cannot be processed from each department.
The letter said there is no possibility to lift the cargo (loading) from the port and unloading of the goods at the warehouses because of very limited staff. Due to this reason the cargo is incurring heavy detention and demurrage charges. This results into a cargo hold because of which the cost is getting higher and higher and resulting into cost push inflation.
The letter further said Ministry of Maritime Affairs (Ports and Shipping) in collaboration with Federal Board of Revenue to assist importers by providing delay detention and relief through which the importers do not get the very heavy detention & demurrage charges imposed. Ministry of Ports and Shipping to give a general approval for the complete waiver of Detention and Demurrage Charges from 16th March’ 2020 up to 30th April’ 2020 or until the situation becomes normal.
He said this can only be possible if the Ministry of Maritime Affairs (Ports and Shipping) brings on board the Advisor to PM on Finance, Advisor to PM on Commerce, Governor State Bank, Secretary Finance, Chairperson FBR, Secretary Maritime Affairs (Ports and Shipping) Banking Council and Port Authorities like Chairmen Karachi Port Trust, Pakistan International Container Terminal, Port Qasim International Container Terminal and all the private terminal operators, shipping lines and concerned authorities and departments who can provide relief. This matter needs immediate attention to avert further chaos, losses and damages to the entire business community.
The letter urged the President to kindly attend this matter of detention and demurrage waiver on “priority” so that the unrest concerning imports can come to an end and the people of Pakistan can look forward for healthy and fruitful business activity as the economy can only move with positive activities.
Meanwhile, in Pakistan, Maersk line and DP World / QICT are allegedly involved in multi-billion dollars demurrage and detention scam case where they blackmailed and harassed genuine importers to pay illegal charges for clearance of their consignments. The shipping lines Maersk Pakistan and port terminals like DP World / QICT are not allowed to collect any demurrage and detention amounts from the importers when the importers provide “delay and detention certificate” under section 14-A of the Customs Act, 1969. The complaint said, furthermore, under rules 603 (Q), 603 (R), 604 (Q) and 607 (E), others of SRO 1220 (I)/2015, the shipping lines cannot charge any demurrage or detention charges where it is not specifically written on the B/L. Despite this shipping companies and the port terminal blackmaile the importers to collect hundreds of thousands of rupees per single consignment in connivance with the concerned Government officials, Port Qasim Authority (PQA), Karachi Port Trust (KPT), Ministry of Maritime and others.
It is pertinent to mention that the NAB received a complaint with subject: save Pakistan from nefarious designs of Indians to blacklist our nation in FATF using their front men and holding company in DP World / QICT Pakistan Limited while also necessary legal action, recoveries of amounts looted and arresting the accused to set an example, recovering losses of millions/billions of dollars of foreign exchange per year while also stopping such further losses in the biggest mega scam of foreign remittances, recovering losses of more than Rs 400 billion from officials of Maersk Pakistan and port terminals like DP World / Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT) in terms of looting the nation under the garb of demurrage and detention, non-payment of hundreds of billions of sales tax to Sindh Revenue Board (SRB) and also looting foreign exchange of Pakistan to the tune of millions of dollars annually and Khalid Mehmood & others of Sindh Revenue Board (SRB), Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Yuvraj Narayan, Deepak Parekh, Robert Woods, Abdulla Ghobash, Mark Russell, Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, Nadya Abdulla Kamali, Mohammed Al Muallem, Suhail Al Banna, Rizwan Soomar, Matthew Leech, Abdulla Bin Damithan, Devang Mankodi, Rashid Abdulla, Mohammad Al Hashimy, Habibullah Khan, Nusrat Khan, Aly Khan, Junaid Zamir, Changaz Hassan Niazi, Farhan Mithani, Masoud Noori, Mohammed Al Mannaei, Omar Al Muhairi, Cyrus R Khursigara, Shahid Iqbal, Uzair Qureshi, Fasih Haider, Faraz Aziz, Abdul Aleem Mirza, Saad Zulfiqar, others of QICT Pakistan Limited & DP World Group (holding 75% shares of QICT Pakistan Limited).
Similarly, 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.
As per the complaint received by the NAB, the accused persons of Maersk Pakistan and QICT Pakistan Ltd. in connivance with the staff of Port Qasim Authority (PQA) have done qabza (illegal encroachment) of land adjacent to the land allowed to QICT Pakistan Ltd. vide the Implementation Agreement signed by Port Qasim Authority (PQA) with DP World / QICT Pakistan Ltd. This illegal encroachment also includes additional berth length that was not allowed under the Implementation Agreement (IA). Besides, even till date, major stakes of QICT Pakistan Limited (75%) is held by foreign company DP World which was handed through back door illegal means without any approval of Ministry of Interior (MoI). SECP and other agencies of Pakistan have failed to stop DP World from operations despite the above gross illegalities and irregularities putting the national interests at serious threat due to their operations at a very strategic location of Pakistan.
The complaint further said the Maersk Pakistan and DP World / QICT accused persons are illegally remitting abroad millions or even Billions of US Dollars of foreign exchange through bank channels by hoodwinking the regulatory bodies such as State Bank of Pakistan or its agency for the matter the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) or the other Agencies of Pakistan like FIA, NAB, etc. who have jurisdiction for the matter. The income of the subject accused persons is local in nature generated by companies of Pakistan while such companies are held illegally by foreign companies without approval and also local income is misdeclared as foreign income to pay some nominal taxes and subsequently such locally generated income be illegally remitted abroad. Thus, they are draining out our National economy of the much needed foreign exchange on one hand and on the other hand they are working on the nefarious designs to get Pakistan into blacklist of FATF by displaying that the foreign exchange regulations of Pakistan are vulnerable in nature.
“When complaints are made to Customs department then they do not take action against the accused which is mandatory under sections 156 (1) 7A of the Customs Act, 1969 and also rules 603 (Q), 603 (R), 604 (Q) and 607 (E), others of SRO 1220 (I)/2015. The nexus of some Customs officials, Maersk Line and DP World /QICT Ltd has made these active provisions of law entirely redundant and they should be severely punished for the same,” the complaint said.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) also reacted to the claims of shipping companies and terminal operators that they would suffer loss if charges are waived, and dubbed their claims as untrue. FPCCI president Mian Anjum Nisar urged the shipping companies and private terminal operators to be sensible and act upon the government advice of extending free demurrages and detention period amid the Covid-19 crisis. Answering a question about importers complaints against shipping companies and terminal operators, Nisar said that this is a fact that shipping cos and private terminal operators are defying the government’s orders. “This is not the right time to think of profits only but to face the calamity collectively,” he stated.
FPCCI Vice President Khurran Aijaz said international trade had almost shut down and there were no export shipments from Pakistan. He said that thousands of import containers were lying at ports, and the importers could not get these released, as there was no transportation, while the markets and warehouses had been locked down. “The importers are already suffering due to closure of markets, declining value of rupee, and these additional charges by terminal operators and shipping lines,” the FPCCI vice president said.
Similarly, Karachi Customs Agents Association (KCAA) General Secretary Muhammad Aamir in a letter dated 30th March requested to waive port demurrage/storage charges on the humanitarian grounds in the wake of ongoing lockdown situation in the country due to outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19). “In the best interest of trade and to support our dear motherland’s economy in these critical times, the competent authorities of shipping companies and Ports/Terminal Operators are requested to please grant maximum waiver of port demurrage and detention on Humanitarian Grounds for the period of lockdown,” the letter issued by KCAA said. But importers who are facing severe financial crunch due to closure of markets, they are demanding total waiver of demurrage and detention charges and further extension in free time at ports till complete normalcy returns to Pakistan.
The Friends of Business & Economic Reforms has also blasted the terminal authorities at Karachi Seaport for rejecting the recommendations of the FBR to extend the free period of 15 days at terminals for charging demurrage, in line with the lockdown extension in the country, appealing to the prime minister to intervene and pass directives in this regard. FEBR President Kashif Anwar stated that at a time when federal as well as the provincial governments are endeavoring to facilitate the business community on account of the lockdown the shipping companies and terminal authorities at ports have flatly refused the proposals of Revenue Division, Government of Pakistan (FBR) which is sheer violation of the PM’s directives to facilitate the businesses. He said the authorities’ target is just profit and revenue generation even in the time of worldwide pandemic and grave financial crisis. The each and every department all around the country are struggling to provide maximum facilities to the industry but the shipping companies and terminal authorities is not ready to cooperate in this regard and this matter should be brought to the notice of Prime Minister of Pakistan.
In line with section 14 A of the Customs Act 1969 and SRO 1220, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs reportedly decided to waive port demurrages and detention charges and extend free time at ports in a meeting with the FPCCI but the companies like DP World / QICT are not implementing the decisions to waive demurrage and detention charges and give extra free time, instead they are using this crisis time as an opportunity to mint illegal money for themselves.
After so much coverage by Customs Today about alleged mega criminal scams of Maersk Pakistan including its MD Aruna Hussain and DP World / QICT with Chairman Sultan bin Sulayem, CEO Junaid Zameer, GM Cyrus Khursigara and benaami owner Habibullah including illegally taking scanning fees, demanding extra demurrage and detention charges and misusing green and yellow channels, NAB has taken up the criminal case against Maersk Pakistan and DP World / QICT. Now the NAB has expedited such criminal cases against these companies where importers have asked the NAB to intervene in the issue and arrest Maersk MD Aruna Hussain, DP World / QICT Chairman Sultan bin Sulayem, CEO Junaid Za meer, GM Cyrus Khursigara and alleged benaami owner Habibullah Khan for recovering the looted amount and giving relief in demurrage and detention charges and free time to traders. But now importers have pinned their hopes on the Honorable President that he will intervene in the issue of demurrage and detention by Maersk Pakistan and DP World / QICT and provide relief to the importers.