ByÂ Godwin Oritse
THEÂ management of APM Terminals Apapa Limited has uncovered import duty fraud running into about N23.4 million involving six licensed customs agents at the terminal.
The agents all attempted to fraudulently remove containers from the terminal using forged APMT invoice, forged APMT payment receipt, and forged pre-gate ticket or fake bank drafts.
The agents involved in the unwholesome practice, most of whom claim to be members of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, are A-Chiomalek Enterprises Nigeria Limited, B-Bolijay Shipping Services Limited, C-Jim-Bay Nigeria Limited, D-Speedwell Maritime Services Limited, E-Maritrans Nigeria Limited and F-Salagima Nigeria Limited.
While A-Chiomalek Enterprises Nigeria Limited was involved in the forgery of APMT receipt to the tune of N147, 071, B-Bolijay Shipping Services Limited was found to have paid a fake cheque valued of N9,416,882 into APMT’s account with a printed APMT invoice in order to take delivery of its containers.
C-Jim-Bay Nigeria Limited on its own part presented a fake cheque of N252,000 with which it attempted to clear a fully laden 20-foot container while D-Speedwell Maritime Services Limited attempted to clear 16 containers by presenting a forged pre-gate ticket that translates to forgery of APMT invoice with a value of N3,548,160.
The remaining two agents; E-Maritrans Nigeria Limited and F-Salagima Nigeria Limited were involved in the forgery and inflation of APMT invoicesÂ amounting to the value of N498,103 and N9,447,349 as against an original invoice of N1,756,188 (in the case of the latter) respectively.
The forged invoices all bore APM Terminalâ€™s name and logo and the various cases have all been r referred to the police.
It would be recalled that early last year, APM Terminals urged consignees to exercise due diligence and confirm that invoices or bills given to them by clearing agents are genuine before payment.
The advise came on the heels of a failed attempt by an agent to swindle his consignee of over N2 million while a separate attempt was made by an Asian multinational company to clear 19 containers with a fake N9.5 million bank draft.
â€œThere is absolutely no secret about the charges at APM Terminals because the charges are definite and importers should just put in a little extra effort and time to confirmâ€, the Managing Director Martin Dirk of APMT stated.
The bossÂ of the leading private terminal operator, alsoÂ said that it is becoming increasingly difficult to perpetrate fraud and fly container at the terminal.
He said that with a fully automated 17-lane gate system that will become fully operation by September this year, the case of container flying will be totally eliminated.