Indemnities which were not

An African ship agent released four containers without production of original bills of lading in exchange for four letters of indemnity apparently counter-signed by a local bank. Subsequent checks with the bank in question revealed that the bank stamp and signature were forged. The ship owner paid the value of the cargo of US$150,000 to the shipper and claimed reimbursement from the agent.

On several occasions in India, ship agents have accepted letters of indemnity, which appeared to be counter-signed by a bank, from consignees in exchange for delivering cargo without bills of lading. When the shipper subsequently asked for copies of the letters of indemnity, it emerged that the banks had not counter-signed them, but had rather signed under the statement "we verify that this is the true signature of the consignee". In one case the value of the cargo was in excess of US$2,000,000.

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