Clear­ing agents refuse li­a­bil­ity for han­dling sus­pect clients cargo

Business Daily (Kenya) - - FRONT PAGE - Gal­gallo Fayo gfayo@ke.na­tion­media.com

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.

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