KARACHI: NAB Regional Board authorized inquiry against CEO of United Marine Agency Sohail Shams and management of KMTC, Pacific International Lines (PIL) and M/s Pacific Delta Shipping (Pvt) Ltd in a mega detention scam worth billions.
Sources said that main beneficiary of the Pacific Delta Shipping is Adil Khan and he is also key planner of mega scam of detention through which his company is looting and bleeding the genuine importers of Pakistan and robbing billions of rupees from them annually.
Businessmen say the NAB had arrested former CM Shahbaz Sharif and Fawad Hassan Fawad over financial irregularities after approval of inquiry and completion of Board’s complaint verification process so the NAB should also arrest Sohail Shams and Adil Khan to conduct inquiry for looting and harassing genuine importers.
Sources said these officials of shipping lines and their agents with the help of some senior customs officials are robbing businessmen to the tune of Rs 15 billion per year. Innocent importers of Pakistan get trapped by seeing these low rates offered by agents of these shipping companies. When the goods are given to the shipping lines in China then they do not give back the goods to importers at Pakistani ports. They start demanding additional very high detention charges. Law under SRO 1220(I)/ 2015 explains that shipping companies cannot charge any detention where specifically it is not agreed and also specifically not mentioned on the B/L (Bill of lading).
The complaint received by NAB said, “They, through their shipper/agents in China, handed the goods to KMTC Ltd. as trust to be delivered and released here at Karachi ports. The shipping lines nominated M/S United Marine Agencies (Private) Limited as their agents at Karachi for the same. Importers also long back paid in full to the shipping lines the ocean freight charges as agreed between the parties. But despite repeated reminders and visiting office of M/S United Marine Agencies (Private) Limited and of PICT Ltd., they did not release the goods yet”.
Importers told Customs Today, “they are suffering heavily daily due to non-availability of their goods, along with reputation loss & loss of customers, etc. and also the goods quality is deteriorating daily which leads to total loss very soon if the goods are not disposed in the markets”.
The complaint further said, “The actions of KMTC Ltd. through its owners, management and staff including but not limited to Jong Seug Park, Yong Hwa Shin, others and of M/S United Marine Agencies (Private) Limited through its owners, management and staff including but not limited to Manzoor Ahmed, Lars Tore Bergstrom, Lars Goran Safverstrom, Mohammad A Dhamee, Sohail Shams, Rishad Kirmani, Mohsin Lodhi, others, individually and jointly, tantamount to conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating, mischief to cause losses, threatening, etc. which attract penal sections under PPC 34, 407, 409, 420, 427, 506, besides others.”
Importers told Customs Today that they give goods as trust (amaanat) to the shipping lines but these companies hold their ‘amaanat’ illegally and blackmail them to pay heavy amounts of charges and thus these shipping lines & agents make good wealth through criminal means.
Another 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 S.S.Teo, Peter Chang, Tan Chor Kee, William Tay, Teo Tend Seng, Tony Teo, Choo Wee Teo, Kuan Kim Kin, others of PIL Ltd; and Bakhtiar Khan, Naveed Ahmad Khan, Tay Kian Phuan William, Teo Chew Seng, Teo Siong Seng, Qamar Naqi, Baig Mirza Mueez, Khan Imran and others of M/S Pacific Delta Shipping (Pvt) Ltd.
Sources said Pacific International Lines is a shipping company incorporated in Singapore in 1967. The founder of PIL is the Chinese entrepreneur Chang Yun Chung. While Bakhtiar Khan is owner of Delta Group of Companies and Chief Executive Officer at Delta Transport (Pvt) Ltd engaged with businesses like transportation, trucking and railroad.
Sources said Pacific Delta Shipping (Pvt) Ltd is also a company of Delta Group and working as agents of PIL in Pakistan. As per the complaint received by the NAB, the nexus of some Customs staff, Port Qasim and shipping lines like Maersk Line along with its agent Maersk Pakistan Private Limited, including its owners, managers & staff and also staff of PIL Ltd and its agent M/S Pacific Delta Shipping (Pvt) Ltd 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 by the port terminals. Hence, the port terminals take huge amounts from the importers on each consignment thus delayed. These shipping lines also force the importers to pay huge illegal sums. All these three: the customs staff, port terminals, 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 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 terminal ports and 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, Maersk Line and PIL Ltd 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 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. Now the NAB has authorised inquiry against these complaints.