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Shipping Alert! Cargo delivery at Pakistan ports may be banned of Maersk Line

Shipping Alert! Cargo delivery at Pakistan ports may be banned of Maersk Line

KARACHI: Evidence has surfaced on ban of cargo delivery at Pakistani ports of Maersk Line and its subsidiary in Pakistan, M/s Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd as Customs Preventive has started procedure to cancel their licenses under rules 603 (Q), 603 (R), 604 (Q) and 607 (E), others of SRO 1220 (I)/2015.

Sources said Maersk Line and its subsidiary M/s Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd are allegedly harassing and blackmailing importers to get additional demurrage and detention charges and their licenses may be cancelled soon for violation of SRO 1220(I)/ 2015. 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).

Sources said the shippers are more interested to know about what will happen to their goods if they load them today on Maersk 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 Maersk Line, which is under process now with Customs preventive. 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 license of Maersk Line is cancelled or suspended. These shipping lines 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.

Meanwhile, in a move to cancel the licenses of Maersk Line and its subsidiary in Pakistan Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd, importers have written a letter to Chief Collector Enforcement and Collector Customs Preventive to take necessary legal action against Maersk Line and its subsidiary in Pakistan Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd for violating SRO 1220 (I)/2015.

Customs Today has already procured copies of the letters issued to Customs Preventive department while pursuing to cancel licenses and also of various FIR application copies received by the police station. The letter received by Deputy Collector Preventive on September 24 with subject: 100% waiver of demurrage & detention and also cancellation of license of Maersk Pakistan Private Limited under Rules 603(Q), 603(R), 604(P), 604(Q) & 607(E), others under SRO1220(I)/2015.

Soren Skou and Claus V Hammingsen

According to the letter, importers said, “Maersk Pakistan Private Limited is not issuing Delivery Order/NOC for our shipments on the pretext of non-payment of illegal charges of demurrage and detention while none of these charges were specifically agreed between the shipper and shipping lines which is necessary under the law to put any such charges on us. {Refer Rules 603(q), 603(r), 604(p), 604(q) & 607(e), others under SRO 1220/ 2015}”.

The letter written to Customs Preventive said, “Maersk Pakistan Private Limited has yet not complied to its obligations under the law to give 100% waiver to us which delay is further causing us unbearable losses and hence now it devolves upon your esteemed office to take necessary legal action under the law as prescribed under rules 603(q), 603(r), 604(p), 604(q) & 607(e), others under SRO 1220/2015 which includes cancellation of license of Maersk Pakistan Private Limited and also penalty on Maersk Pakistan Private Limited under section 156(1) 7A of the Customs Act, 1969”.

Importers further demanded, “It is humbly submitted that such 100% waiver and the subsequent cancellation of license of Maersk Pakistan Private Limited and penalty is not advisory in nature rather these are mandatory provisions of law which is even pressed by the usage of the word ‘Shall’ in its respective provisions. As such even the worthy Chief Collector of Customs Enforcement is bound by these provisions of law to ensure that 100% waiver of demurrage and detention is granted by the shipping lines and also to penalise and cancel the license of Maersk Pakistan (Private) Limited for not readily complying to the SRO 1220/2015”.

Meanwhile, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) received a complaint seeking probe to ascertain role of employees of Maersk Line in country’s biggest shipping scandal involving 610 billion rupees.

Importers lodged application against Maersk Line and its subsidiary in Pakistan Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd for conspiracy, cheating and criminal breach of trust under PPC 407, 409, 420, 427, 506 and others so that these fraudsters are stopped to blackmail genuine importers by demanding ‘illegal’ additional charges.

The complaint received by the NAB and the FIA 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 Maersk Line and M/s Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd including Søren Skou, Claus V. Hemmingsen, Søren Toft, Vincent Clercp, Morten H. Engelstoft, others of Maersk Line and Arslan Khan, Hazanfar 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 FIA and the NAB, the nexus of some Customs staff, shipping lines like Maersk Line along with its agent Maersk Pakistan Private Limited, including its owners, managers & staff are making illegal money through malpractice.

“Firstly, customs department delays goods of majority of containers that arrive in red channel. 80% of the goods cleared in red channel take a duration which is more than the free days provided. These shipping lines also force the importers to pay huge illegal sums. The customs staff and shipping lines as mentioned above delay the clearance and delivery of the goods to the importer. Due to this delay, the revenue collection of duty and taxes is slowed down drastically of the actual speed. Like where these goods were to be cleared and delivered in 2 days then it takes an average of 20 days to clear and deliver,” the complaint said.

The complaint received by the FIA and the NAB said, “The total revenue collection by customs department is Rs. 610 billion. If the process of revenue collection is not slowed down by the above-mentioned parties then at least the revenue collections could be doubled. Hence, total loss to national exchequer due to above nexus and illegal acts of the subject accused is Rs. 610 billion”.

“The shipping lines are not allowed to collect any demurrage and detention amounts from the importer when the importer provides ‘delay and detention certificate’ under section 14 A of the Customs Act, 1969. Despite this, the port terminals and shipping lines blackmail and harass the importer to collect hundreds of thousands of rupees per single consignment. Since this is illegal money demanded from the citizens of Pakistan and hence it can be termed as an ‘extortion’ amount,” the complaint said.

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. But still in violation of these rules and laws, the shipping lines fearlessly hold the containers of the importers and charge them exorbitant detention charges. These detention charges even exceed the actual cost of container by a whopping 1,000%!

“The shipping lines charges only 30% of its cost from the importer to allure importer to give his containers to them. All remaining 70% of cost and huge profits are made through illegal means and black money. Like China-Pak cost of shipment for a 40HQ container is charged USD 300 whereas the actual cost to the shipping company is USD 1,000. Pak-China freight is almost USD 0 to USD 10 which is even more surprising. When white income of these shipping lines is only 30% of their cost then it is obvious that they are indulging in many illegal and black activities to cover cost and also make huge profits,” the complaint said.

“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 and Maersk Line has made these active provisions of law entirely redundant and they should be severely punished for the same,” the complaint said.

The complaint demanded from the FIA and the NAB to take legal action against the subject accused persons, recover amounts looted by them, recover losses suffered by national exchequer to the tune of Rs. 610 billion per year and stop further losses.