HONG KONG: Shipping firm APL and a vessel captain were fined a total of HK$99,000 (US$12,600) on Monday (Apr 29) for transporting nine Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Terrex vehicles into Hong Kong without a proper licence in 2016.
Chinese national Pan Xuejun, the vessel's captain, and APL were jointly charged and convicted of importing and exporting strategic commodities without a proper licence.
Pan was handed a HK$9,000 fine and a three-month suspended prison sentence, while APL was fined HK$90,000 by the Hong Kong District Court.
The SAF Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles and associated equipment were seized by local authorities on Nov 23, 2016, as the shipment was passing through Hong Kong. They were on their way back to Singapore after military exercises in Taiwan.
The armoured troop carriers were returned to Singapore two months later, after Hong Kong authorities completed their investigations.
READ: Timeline: Detention of SAF Terrex vehicles in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Customs said in March 2017 that it had started prosecution of shipping firm APL and the captain.
NO PROPER LICENCE
The prosecution alleged that the vehicles had no proper licence and were labelled as civilian vehicles instead.
APL's defence was that its role was that of a vessel agent, and not the carrier agent. A vessel agent is mainly in charge of the operation of the vessel, while a carrier agent is responsible for the documentation relevant to its cargo.
APL said that the carrier agent responsible for the shipment was its American sister company, American President Lines.
The judge was not convinced by APL's defence that it was unaware of this particular cargo, saying it had carried out such shipments previously with proper documentation.
The judge was also unconvinced by Pan's defence that he did not know of the full extent of the shipment on hand, and that he was relying on others to do so.
If Pan had gone to inspect the cargo himself, he would have realised that they were military vehicles instead of civilian vehicles, the judge said.