ETL Colombo Ltd. in a statement yesterday denied any claims that it was the ultimate importer of the 130 containers of ‘used mattresses’ imported to Hayleys Free Zone, Katunayake for reprocessing and re-export as legally permitted by the Hub Act.
The actual owner and the key stakeholder of the said cargo is Ceylon Metal Processing Corporation Ltd. (hitherto referred to as CMPC). ETL Colombo, in laymen terms was the ‘mere intermediary’; a third party that facilitated the shipment process as a freight forwarding company, in full compliance of the applicable laws and rules of the Hub Act.
ETL Colombo is a Class A registered freight forwarding company under the directives of the Merchant Shipping Act in Sri Lanka and have always conducted its business in an ethical and legal manner. The company has duly responded to Sri Lanka Customs with the required documentation on its status as the freight forwarder for the subject shipments.
The documentation clarifies that ETL Colombo was appointed by CMPC as the freight forwarder for CMPC’s cargo. ETL Colombo on behalf of CMPC entered into an agreement with Hayleys Free Zone, who would provide the services of Customs Clearance, appropriate storage, reprocessing of the cargo as agreed with CMPC and re-export of the cargo, in strict compliance of the Hub Act.
With reference to the containers shipped from the UK, that are currently being held at the CICT terminal of the Colombo port, once again ETL was only involved in the capacity of the ‘freight forwarder’. While the ‘importer’ of the cargo is CMPC. Thereby, ETL categorically denies any involvement with the said shipments in a role that is by any means beyond the role of a ‘freight forwarder’.
ETL reiterates it acted as the intermediary between CMPC and Hayleys Free Zone for the said cargo operation in compliance of the terms presented through Hub Act and that the cargo was never shipped to be dumped in Sri Lanka nor was there any intention or reason to resort to any illegal means, as alleged by some parties.
ETL is of the view that recent public statements by various factions point to a lack of understanding of the Hub Act, the actual role of the freight forwarder, the documentation process and the individual responsibilities and liabilities of the multiple parties involved in the process. This might cause irreparable damage to the company’s good reputation and threaten the future business of the company.