KARACHI: Traders, Importers, and Customs Agents have not been extended any relief in demurrage and detention charges despite the government has been repeatedly reminded of the high-handedness of port terminals DP World / QICT and shipping lines Maersk Pakistan Pvt Ltd amid Covid-19 which has destroyed the entire fabric of national economy. 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 continuously bleeding Pakistan with illegal and unfair charges of demurrage and detention in these difficult times of Coronavirus.
Maersk Pakistan and DP World / QICT are allegedly involved in multi-billion-dollar demurrage and detention scam case and high-officials of these companies are facing criminal cases in Pakistan. These companies are taking illegal demurrage and detention charges on import of every single Pakistani and then these companies are sending this money to abroad, bleeding the whole of Pakistan. Maersk Pakistan and DP World are reportedly involved in Rs 400 billion mega scam of demurrage & detention, foreign remittances and others. These companies are looting the nation under the garb of demurrage and detention.
Importers and business leaders across the country have sought relief in demurrage and detention charges due to the deteriorated economic downfall amid Covid-19 as supplies are reduced and industries are shutdown. Importers and business leaders including Lahore Chamber of Commerce President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, Mian Zahid Javaid, FEBR president Kashif Anwer, Nasir Hameed Khan, Zeshan Khalil, Shahid Nazir, Rao Khursheed, Adeeb Sheikh and others observed that due to Covid-19 the cash flows of businesses are badly affected. Industrial as well as commercial importers are in severe liquidity crunch owing to failure of the government to get its financial schemes implemented through the SBP to facilitate the business community.
Sources said no relief has been announced by Maersk Pakistan and DP World / QICT which is sheer violation of the government advice and clear directions of various state agencies like FBR and EDB to relax detention and demurrage charges. Ministry of Maritime Affairs has miserably failed to instruct private port terminals and shipping lines to waive demurrage and detention.
“We request you to refund the demurrage, detention and other charges to those importers who have paid them to clear their consignments during this period of lockdown,” importers demanded. At a time when federal as well as the provincial governments are endeavoring to facilitate the business community on account of the lockdown the terminal authorities and shipping companies have flatly refused the directives of FBR which is sheer violation of the PM’s directives to facilitate the businesses, they said.
“It is impossible for commercial and industrial importers to bear further financial losses and pay exorbitant detention and demurrage charges. In view of the lockdown government can be the only facilitator for the business community to help them in curtailing their losses in these hard times. We request you (Prime Minister), on behalf of the all industrial and commercial importers, to take penal action against those companies which are not implementing the directives of the government,” they said.
Auto parts importer and Montgomery Road Lahore Amjuman-e-Tajran president Shahid Nazir while talking to Customs Today said, “We are not able to get our consignments release due to the shortage of cash. All around the globe the importers have been extended relief of demurrages and detention and the Pakistani importers should also be facilitated in the extraordinary condition when the pandemic has affected all the walks of life. I myself have seven containers stuck up at the ports and I am unable to get them released due to the shortage of hot cash”.
LCCI president Irfan Iqbal Sheikh in the letter written to the PM said, “Your Excellency is requested to intervene in the matter and direct the concerned authorities to ensure that Shipping Companies provide relief to businesses in line with the Government directives regarding demurrage and detention charges.”
Pakistan Tax Bar Association (PTBA) president Aftab Nagra, Qari Habibur Rehman Zubari and other office bearers have also urged the government to bring down rate of taxes, interest rate to 5 percent and waive demurrage and detention and give free time at port.
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.
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.
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.
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 stop them from bleeding Pakistan.