Recently, the club has received notification of a number of cases related to delivery of container cargo against fraudulent bills of lading in African ports, particularly in Mombasa, Matadi and Nacala.
In a few cases, the fake set of bills of lading looked sufficiently genuine, resulting in delivery of cargo against them. It follows from these events that claims for loss of cargo have been raised against the member.
In one case, the fake bill of lading was printed on the shipowner’s actual bills of lading form to create a legitimate appearance including the security feature embedded in the genuine bill of lading form. This particular case is still under investigation.
It is vital that members maintain a clear line of communication with all parties involved to be able to determine the chain of custody for any set of original bills of lading if necessary. If the member’s local agents notice any irregularities in the documents presented, they should immediately contact the member to seek clarification. If members’ are in doubt, they should immediately liaise with their P&I Club for guidance.
Members’ are recommended to ensure their local agents are familiar with internal procedures regarding existing checks on bills of lading presented in exchange for release of container cargo. These internal procedures should be reviewed and revised periodically to ensure that potential gaps are addressed to avoid similar instances from recurring. Local agents should ensure that proper checks are undertaken on presented documents to ensure its genuine nature. If documentation errors or inconsistencies are noted then operations shall be put on halt till clarification is sought.
Source: The Standard Club