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Customs impose much harsher penalties on contraband cigarettes

Penalties have been substantially increased in order to discourage contrabandists, with the fine for evasion being increased from €600 to a maximum of €25,000

amy_micallef_decesare
Amy Micallef Decesare
10 November 2017, 12:20pm
The Customs department has substantially increased fines and penalties associated with the distribution of contraband cigarettes, it said today.

Importing, supplying and consuming contraband cigarettes drastically and negatively affects the country in various ways, they said, claiming that the actual deterrent effect on those who break the law, is “quite ineffective”.

The department said that in order to discourage contrabandists, the “anomalous situation” must be dealt with in a way where both the demand and supply sides are addressed.

Customs, therefore, had no choice but to thoroughly amend the law pertaining to evasion of excise duty and increase penalties in the following manner:
  • Out of court settlements will increase from €250 to a minimum of €1,500
  • Court penalties will increase from €500 to a minimum of €3,000 and a maximum of €25,000 (in the case of seizure).
  • In the case of evasion, this will increase from €600, to a minimum of €4,000 and a maximum of €25,000.


Apart from the fine increases, Customs and police authorities are increasing their resources, said the department.

The decent citizen who pays all duties, they said, “merits protection from the authorities” and those who opt to breach the law, will discover that it has become “much harsher and more powerful”.