Both sides of the coin: the Kapruka case

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I’m sure most of you know the story by now.

Kapruka, an established transport services company, recently turned the retail business on its head. They set up an office where you could walk in, order anything off Amazon, Ebay, Newegg and get it delivered right to their doorstep. Dollar price plus a 5% charge for shipping and handling. This applies to everything from high-end PC hardware to Gummi Bears and noodles. A lot of people – myself included – believe they did Sri Lanka a huge favor. The entire range of everything up for sale is suddenly available in Sri Lanka for many thousand rupees cheaper than in stores.

Recently Kapruka was verbally mobbed. There is no other way to describe it. A warehouse full of liquor was discovered and they were accused of selling liquor without a license. The CEO of Kapruka was called in for questioning. Within an hour the local tweetscape and forums were flooded with links to news “sites” claiming that Kapruka was part of a national liquor smuggling ring. “Journalists” took it upon themselves to downcry Kapruka and brand it as the source of all drunks roaming the streets in Sri Lanka. Kapruka online liquor shop raided, claims Gossip Lanka.

If we sound disdainful, it’s because we are: nobody bothered to take the Kapruka point of view into account. Kapruka’s business is delivering stuff. This started with flowers and music CDs almost eight years ago. It expanded to gifts. Cake. Perfumes. Soft toys. Liquor. They purchase from local supermarkets and deliver it to your doorstep. They key thing is that you can do this via their website without having to make phone calls. That, as far as we can ascertain, is how they have always worked.  To reduce delivery speed bottlenecks, they have been known to pre-stock certain items in high demand. Chocolates, a carton of wine and so on.

This time around, anticipating demand, they apparently pre-ordered a huge quantity of liquor for Father’s Day. The stuff did not sell. Kapruka was left with a huge amount of unsellable alcohol. This was discovered and they were raided.

“Kapruka” caught for illegal liquor trade.

Sri Lanka Excise special investigation division has been able to raid a mega racket of distributing liquor to various parts of the country through internet orders.

Excise department states that this is the first instance in Sri Lanka where such a racket was raided.

It is said that this Liquor racket has been conducted by an institution called “Kapruka” who had been distributing there products through a website, under cover of various goods deliveries.

It has been revealed that the employees of this business place had delivered the liquor to the doorsteps of the people who had ordered them from the internet web site.

They also have provided credit card payment service.

It has also been revealed that this business had been conducted in other countries like US, UK and Australia as well.

This racket has been conducted nearly 8 years and the suspects are to be presented to the Colombo Magistrate court today.

… the accused “Kapruka” is a website which received many awards for its online marketing services.

  • Srilankanmirror.lk

This is a classic example of what’s been thrown at Kapruka these days. Read the newspiece on CeylonToday. Suddenly, based entirely on the claims of a random person with a keyboard and a PC, Kapruka went from being a reputable courier services company to an 8-year multinational liquor racket.

Firstly, Kapruka can in no way be called a liquor racket. Readers might argue whether there’s a difference between selling liquor and transporting liquor. After going through the material involved, there is a fine but distinct number of lines between the two. Going through Kapruka’s payment policies and the prices in various liquor stores and supermarkets, Kapruka charges only for the transport of whatever it is you buy on their website. Essentially, their business is transport, not retail.

There are security services in this company that transport money.  Avant Garde Security (to use an example) will transport your money securely for you (they will also add a guard with a shotgun). That doesn’t make them part of a money laundering ring.

Line number two: their website is international, and thus obviously accepts credit cards. That is not a basis for calling a transport business a liquor racket.

Line number three: there is no clear Sri Lankan law covering selling liquor or selling the associated transport of liquor through a website. Come to that, Sri Lanka has yet to evolve a coherent law on selling stuff online.

Offset this against what Kapruka has done. With their recent eShop, they’ve opened up the world’s entire tech market to Sri Lanka. CPU coolers that don’t exist in SL are now being brought down almost at dollar price. High end workstation cards. Keyboards. Whatever it is, it’s now available at your desktop. It’s a little more than cheek to call such a boon a liquor, isn’t it?

This article is a much to consumers as to my fellow journalists. Pay attention to the facts. Kapruka, while definitely not a liquor racket, is not entirely without blame – they clearly failed to check on local policy and obtain rights to stock liquor. Personally, I don’t  support what they did – supply and demand is one thing, but legal limits must be observed. That doesn’t make them an eight-year multi-national liquor racket any more than shaving a petty cash box turns you into an illegal bank. 

 

 

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Miuru. This was in fact a setup. We went with the any publicity is good publicity policy and weathered this in a positive way.

    • You know you're doing something right.. when people stand for the slightest opportunity to point fingers and show that you're doing something wrong!

  2. This is a bull shit.

    It a not allowed to store liquor without a license sri lanka. Thats is the law. The writer is trying to say like its a mistake he couldn't sell it on the fathers day which is what he is trying to emphasize here. So innocent guy is arrested. [Ane paaww].

    Guys What police has done is right thing. Dont try to bullshit here.

    • You Shitbull,

      What LAW you talking…. Even politicians removed the chief justice (CJ) with their dirty powers. What the hell are you talking… Shut up and go men.

      Hackers are hero's – Enosh you know who am I —– !!!!

  3. It's pathetic to see how law abiding saints comments in here.

    For some it's a big enough reason to tarnish an image of anyone if they try to do something different or even see that they earn money by doing something. While agreeing on the fact that the law is law don't forget those who are suppose to enforce the law are part of the same society with ego and hatred. Don't think if police has done it that's always the right thing and right way to do it. If that's the case the recent incident of kidnap and killing done by Police can also be the right thing to do.

    Better be practical and think openly rather than just try to attack a business just because they have earned their bucks.

    Personally I know that lots of people living overseas use this service to send gifts to their relatives and friends in SL. This helps SL economy immensely as they buy the gifts from local market. This is an income otherwise would never come to SL. As writer says punish him if he didn't bother checking the legal limits of storage. However tarnishing the image and bringing the whole business is something else.

  4. We at laabai.lk have the greatest respect for Kapruka and it's services. They have made an outstanding impact on the country with happy faces who feel closer to their long distance loved ones on special occasions.

    Now with the launch of the Global Shop, the market just got BIGGER! This most likely has made a lot of businesses very angry. (NOT US. We prefer to use this opportunity.)

    It's a volatile country where ethics and law are valued in rupees. Hmm…

  5. Avant Garde Security has license to do it. Not everyone can transport money like they do with a firearm. So as the Kapruka, Dulith knows that he need a license to sell liquor in Sri Lanka. So he needs to obtain a license.

    It's true Kapruka doing a great job to the Sri Lankan diaspora but simply no one can justify this with their service. So it's simply like though HE MR finish the war, no one can justify MRIA and Hambanthota port.

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