KARACHI: Dr. Wasif Memon Collector Adjudication has advised Directorate General of Transit Trade to initiate proceedings against the focal person of British High Commission in the case of in-transit pilferage of cargo meant for ISAF forces in Afghanistan.

Directorate General of Transit Trade has been directed to ascertain the role of customs officials into the entire episode through a fact finding enquiry.

Meanwhile, a penalty of Rs1.0 million has been imposed on M/s Venus Pakistan Pvt Ltd Karachi bonded carriers for failing to fulfill their obligation as bonded carrier and hiding this fact from Customs authorities that the Afghan Transit cargo had not crossed the border, instead the same was kept at an unauthorized place. Penalty of Rs500,000 has also been imposed on clearing agent M/s VSF Logistic Limited Karachi.

According to the details of the case, ISAF Kandahar Afghanistan C/s Supreme Fuels Trading FZE imported “Ether Alcohols and their derivatives” 40 pallet. The notify party has been found to be M/s. Venus Pakistan Pvt Ltd.

The British High Commission, Islamabad nominated/authorized to M/s. Venus Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd., as their Clearing Agent for clearance of the consignment and transit to Afghanistan and also mentioned that British High Commission and their contractor M/s. Venus Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd., took joint responsibility for theft, loss or damage of the said cargo during the transportation from Karachi to its final destination.

Accordingly, M/s. Venus Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd. filed a GD for clearance of the consignment in terms of Para 25 & 31 of Customs General Order (CGO) 12/2002. M/s. NLC permitted M/s VSF Logistics (Bonded Carrier) to carry the containers for transit to Afghanistan. The GD was processed and out of charged from Customs on 21.06.2011. The containers were gate out on 05.07.2011 from Karachi Port.

During reconciliation it was found that Cross Border Certificate (CBC) of the containers was not received after a lapse of 15 days as stipulated in terms of Para 25 and 31 of the Customs General Order (CGO) 12/2002.

Since no CBC was furnished by the party, therefore, a notice followed by reminders were issued, but no reply was received. Sensing some suspicious/foul play on the part of Clearing Agent and Bonded Carrier, status of the containers was investigated and found that clearing agent M/s. Venus Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd. and Bonded carrier M/s. VSF Logistics after gate out retained the containers in the warehouse of M/s. Venus Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd due to a dispute of outstanding dues against M/s. Supreme Food Services which is a contractor of ISAF.

Since the importer in this consignment was ISAF who were allowed to import under Para 25 and 31 of CGO 12/2002 and M/s. Supreme Foods (contractors) were not entitled to import for ISAF/NATO/US Forces in Afghanistan under the said Paras of Customs General Order (CGO) 12/2002, hence, M/s. Venus Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd. and Bonded Carrier retained the containers (which was the original import of ISAF), illegally with malafide intention and without any valid legal justification. They even did not bother to inform the concerned Collectorate/Directorate of Transit Trade for a long period after gate out of the containers.

Later on, M/s. Venus Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd., vide letter dated 08.04.2013 and 08.11.2013 explained that they had monetary dispute with M/s. Supreme Food Services, the authorized representative of ISAF and due to these reasons they held up the delivery of the under reference containers. Whereas, since the Customs have nothing to do with the internal monetary disputes among the parties and the justification given by the clearing agent is not tenable rather attracts serious action. Above act of the Clearing Agent and Bonded Carrier is a sheer violation of law/rules and failure to discharge their responsibilities as bonded carrier. Moreover, the duty and taxes to the tune of Rs2.346 million were not paid.

Dr. Wasif Memon noted in the Order that provision of para 25 & 31 of CGO 12 of 2002 has been rescinded and replaced with CGO 10 of 2012. Therefore, the prevalent law applicable to the present case is CGO 10 of 2012 and the case is being decided of in the light of provisions of applicable law.

A plain reading of the afore-stated ‘provisions makes it clear that the carrier is responsible for safe transportation of the goods from the port of entry to the port of exit and if any pilferage takes place he is liable to pay duty/taxes leviable thereon in addition to any other proceeding as envisaged in of the Customs Act.

In this case the department has itself admitted that no pilferage has taken place, thus no question of recovery of duty & taxes arises. The only offence that can be attributed to the respondents is that they took the containers to a non-designated place rather than taking them to a customs bonded area and never informed the customs authorities about the fact these containers have not crossed the border.

The case record clearly shows that the bonded carrier M/s. VSF Logistic Limited along with M/s. Venus Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd. miserably failed to discharge their liability by not taking the goods to a bonded area and not informing customs authorities within time about the same.

The learned counsel for NLC pointed-out that the focal person (authorized representative of Embassy) is also liable/responsible as per provisions of law.

Collector Adjudication observed that the contention of learned counsel is partially correct as it also remained inactive to pursue their case with due diligence. However, the detecting agency has failed to include the name of the authorized representative of the Embassy and National Logistic Cell (NLC) in the contravention report. Accordingly, the same was not included in the show cause notice. At this stage no order can be passed against the authorized representative of Embassy.