Clearing agents refuse liability for handling suspect clients cargo
Two clearing agents charged with dumping substandard goods in Kenya have led a petition challenging their culpability in a suit that is expected to de ne the boundaries of criminal liability for cargo owned by a third party. The duo wants the court to determine whether they can be held responsible for an illegality committed in the process of importation and clearance of a consignment. "That such charges against the petitioners violate the provision of Article 157 of the Constitution and amount to malicious prosecution, abuse of power, are unfounded in law and mischievous," the petitioners said. Suresh Varsani and Harji Kerai claim that their prosecution in connection with importation of substandard tyres, tubes and aps is erroneous as they are not the importers of the goods, but are agents who had been hired to clear the goods on behalf of
their clients. The two are facing two counts of conniving to commit an offence under Section 9 of East African Community Customs Management Act and willful disobedience of statutory duty contrary to Section 130 of the Penal Code. The businessmen have listed the Director of Criminal Investigations, Director of Public Prosecution and the Kenya Bureau of Standards as respondents in the suit. They have denied conniving with customs officers to release the goods, arguing that the cargo was formally cleared by Kebs head of inspection and that they followed all the procedures while clearing the shipment for Tyre World Limited. Speedex, a company owned by the duo, is listed as one of the petitioners. They claim that they are strangers to the allegations arguing that the goods were imported by Tyre World Limited, inspected and issued with a certificate of conformity by SGS, a firm that Kebs contracted to conduct pre-export verification of conformity to standards. The DPP says in a statement that investigations had revealed that bulk imports of rice, tyres, fertilizer, adult diapers among others were released into the country despite failing the quality test. The DPP has singled out the Kenya Revenue Authority, Kebs and Port Health Services as theagencies that failed to perform their work as required. He approved charges against 15 individuals and entities among them Kiprono Cole Bullut, chief manager Container Freight Station, Daniel Kimonge, chief manager inspection Kebs, Tyre World Limited and its directors, Speedex Logistics Limited and its directors, and Kiamba Clearing and Forwarding Limited.