As reported in yesterday’s edition of CargoForwarder Global a squad of special police and customs forces raided a number of groundhandlers at Frankfurt airport and some other locations
throughout Germany on the suspicion of illegal employment and tax evasion by firms. Today, we spoke with Samim Aydin, Managing Director of Celebi Germany and Chairman of the Basel-headquartered
Airport Services Association (ASA) about his company’s involvement.
Yes, Celebi Frankfurt was part of the raid, Samim confirms. “Investigators came Tuesday morning at 6:00 a.m. to our facility at Frankfurt’s CargoCity South much to our surprise,” he says. They
looked through some records and took a number of documents with them when ending their action shortly after it had begun, the manager described the situation witnessed by him to CargoForwarder
Status of a witness
Mr Aydin attaches special importance to the fact that Celebi does not belong to the firms accused of any illegal activities but was part of the police action “because the authorities consider us being a witness in this case.”
Being named by media belonging to the group of suspects, as also done by CFG on the basis of statements delivered by credible sources that were right on the spot when the squad rushed into the facility of the handler, “harmed our reputation severely, disturbed our top management in Istanbul and greatly irritated our clients,” states Samim.
He goes on to say that at Celebi's Frankfurt warehouse, the only facility operated at any German airport by the agent, around 13 percent of the total personnel of 340 are provided by external companies, some coming from sourcing firm “Rent-The-Best” who seems to be the prime suspect according to information on hand.
Accordingly, the special squad particularly raided handling agents that have or used to have business relations with this particular sourcing firm recruiting temporarily or permanently personnel from them, such as Acciona, Lufthansa Cargo, Cargoworker 24 and a number of other companies.
So did Celebi, Samim Aydin confirms, which explains why investigators knocked at his office’s doors. However, because some of the external workers did not perform as expected, he terminated the cooperation with “Rent-The-Best” some time ago, launching a tender instead with the aim of finding an alternative solution.
In a statement issued by Celebi’s Istanbul headquarters and sent to CargoForwarder Global the management stresses that “Celebi Cargo GmbH provided all requested documents and information to the customs and police officials referring to the investigated subcontracted company serving to it.” The management further stresses: “Since the staffing company is providing workers to many handling companies at Frankfurt Airport, this investigation was not focused on Celebi Cargo GmbH or a particular handling company.” Therefore, “Celebi Cargo is strongly objecting to being indicated as one of the accused parties”…”instead it is the victim of this investigation due to the suspension of its operation during the investigation.”
In addition to this, Samim confirms that his company has a clean record of paying social security and pension contributions according to law. Established in 1958, “we are the oldest independent supplier of handling services and a close partner of Lufthansa Passenger Airlines in Turkey for a long period of 31 years and 25 years for Lufthansa Cargo.” “Never ever in our history we have behaved unlawfully or participated in moonlighting which includes all of our meanwhile 36 stations at airports all around the world.”
CargoForwarder Global sincerely regrets any misunderstandings which may have arisen in our previous report on this issue. Information from on the spot witnesses at the time clearly suggested otherwise. This is as shown above, definitely not the case.
As to Munich Airport, where special police and customs squads raided companies as well, spokesman Peter Pruemm from the airport operator assured CargoForwarder Global that neither his company nor any of MUC’s subsidiaries are affected in any way. Instead, “the investigators targeted a forwarding agent that is located near our airport,” said Pruenn. The result of their action is not made public at this point of time.
Heiner Siegmund / John Mc Donagh
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