Mombasa tycoon Ashok Doshi demands Sh20 million damages from BIC manufacturers

Ashok Doshi [Joackim Bwana, Standard]
Mombasa based tycoon Ashok Doshi wants BIC Biro Pen, HACO Industries Limited to pay him Sh20 million accusing the company of defaming him.

Doshi through his firm Doshi Iro Mongers is seeking damages after HACO had him and Atul Shah, the proprietor of Nakumatt supermarkets arrested and charged over the alleged importation and selling of the counterfeit pens in 1996.

Doshi’ company had imported 400 cartons in blue, black and red ballpoint pens in 1996 from China which they sold to Nakumatt and other several customers in Mombasa and Nairobi.

The tycoon who testified before Chief Magistrate Evans Makori said they were arrested with a false declaration by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) but were acquitted by Senior Resident Magistrate C.W Mwangi on July 10, 1997.

SEE ALSO :Tycoon sues Haco and Bic years after counterfeits row

While being cross-examined by his lawyer Willies Oluga, Doshi said that on February 20, 2002, they agreed to settle the matter with Societe BIC and HACO and paid Sh15 million for the imported pens. They also decided that he would keep the whole consignment.

"After the acquittal, the goods were released to us, and we agreed between the parties for us to pay Sh15 million to HACO and decided that they would not disturb us over the consignment and any issue concerning it was to be presented for arbitration," said Doshi.

However, he said that HACO went ahead in 2002 and breached the agreement by launching a similar complaint before Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and it caused them to be rearrested again and charged in Mombasa Law Courts.

"We were inspected by KEBS on August 23, 2002, after HACO launched a complaint that we had a further consignment of counterfeit Bic Biro pens yet these were the same consignment of 1996 that was left in my possession. That is why on August 23, 2002, I had the same goods," said Doshi.

He said they had agreed with HACO that if they had any complaint about the consignment, they were to report the matter for arbitration, but they proceeded to report to KEBS who confiscated the goods twice.

Doshi told the courts that HACO failed to honor their agreement dated October 2, 2002, and reported the matter to KRA and KEBS again and they ended up being rearrested over the same consignment of 1996.

He said that the charge sheet of the 2002 case was the same as that of 1996.

Doshi said that they were also acquitted for the second time by the Mombasa Law courts in 2002.

"The second time we were charged in Mombasa Law Courts and the charge sheet was the same as it was back in 1996, but the magistrate court acquitted us," said Doshi.

He said he had lost business and suffered losses out of defamation after the matter was published on the press severally.

"As a result, I have suffered the loss of business because of defamation through wrong publication. I was wrongly charged in court by Weights and measures and later they were told to release the consignment," said Doshi.

The tycoon said that to date he has the whole consignment of the BIC pens in store as court evidence although they have expired.

"Till to date I have the goods, and they are intact as evidence to court although they have expired," said Doshi.

Yesterday the company’ Financial Controller in his testimony said that the Doshi Iron Mongers registered a drastic decline in its turnover between the years 2002 to 2005 after the complaint by HACO.

Mukhtaza Hassanali said that from the audit report the company started registering a downward turnover after HACO complained they were dealing in counterfeit goods.

He said that the company's turnover as at January 31, 2002, stood at Sh1,889, 854, 352 but dropped to Sh1,443, 463, 293 as at January 31, 2003, signifying a 23 per cent drop.

The controller said that the turnover further dropped to Sh1, 196, 948, 500 on January 31, 2004, which is a 17 per cent decline from January 31, 2003.

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Ashok DoshiHACO Industries LimitedAtul Shah