EBA calls for finalization of bill on criminalization of commodity smuggling.

The European Business Association (EBA) has called on the parliament to finalize presidential bill No. 5420 on the criminalization of smuggling of goods, including excisable ones.

According to the association's press release, EBA member companies support the establishment of criminal liability for the smuggling of excisable goods, however, the bill proposes to set unacceptably low thresholds for criminal prosecution for smuggling.

In addition, the bill proposes to introduce a provision on inaccurate declaration. Thus, technical errors, such as the one for wrongly entering information in certain columns of the customs declaration, may be grounds for criminal prosecution, the EBA said.

Also, this draft law entrusts control to the not yet established Bureau of Economic Security, and for the period of its establishment, the tax police will perform that function. At the same time, the tax police remain unreformed and bear a negative reputation, the press release said.

"According to EBA companies, imperfect rules of bill No. 5420, when applied by the tax police, can lead to gross abuse and even greater pressure on the business," the EBA said.

"Thus, law enforcement agencies will have the right to determine at their discretion the moment when 'actions aimed at transporting goods/excisable goods out of customs control or with concealment from customs control' begin in accordance with Articles 201, 201-1 and 305 of the current Criminal Code of Ukraine and Articles 201-2, 201-3 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine," the press release said.

"Thus, even if the company does not transport goods across the customs border, and the goods are, for example, in a warehouse – law enforcement agencies can visit to check and classify this situation as 'actions aimed at transporting goods/ excisable goods out of customs control,' even when the company did not intend to transport the goods," the association said.

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