How to combat smuggling in Ukraine?

Author : Boryslav Bereza

Source : 112 Ukraine

For quite a long time, the Ukrainian segment of Facebook is speaking on the topic of contraband on the Ukrainian border
11:35, 16 August 2018

112 Agency

Smuggling has become an integral part of our lives. And we notice smuggling both to Ukraine and from it. The smuggling of forests, amber and cigarettes from Ukraine is perceived by many as something ineradicable. And a huge flow of smuggling alcohol, gasoline, diesel, cheese, sausages, iphones, wine, clothes, fuel for airplanes, chocolate, detergents, olive oil, furniture and everything else to Ukraine deprive the budget of billions of dollars and fill the pockets of all those, who wears a uniform and has relation to customs or must control it.

Smuggling must be stopped, but there is no criminal responsibility for smuggling. This was stated by Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko. And he offered me to write a law that would provide an imprisonment for smuggling. The first emotional impulse was to make an easy decision - it's quick and easy to introduce criminal responsibility. The bill. Here it is, the solution to the problem, I thought. But almost 4 years of work in Parliament changed me. I am no longer driven by emotion. So I spent enough time to study the issue, consulted our experts, found out how they are fighting contraband in Britain, Israel and Estonia, from their colleagues from these countries, talked with our businessmen who suffer from absolutely black imports of their competitors, and figured out the problem. Everything is not so straightforward.

Do you know that in the UK you are given 7 years of imprisonment for smuggling? And in Hungary, criminal responsibility comes after 15 blocks of cigarettes. In Romania, you can go to jail for transporting even one pack of contraband cigarettes through the green corridor, and in Slovenia the same fate awaits the smuggler for 8 blocks. And in Poland, for smuggling cigarettes, there is only a fine, and it ranges from 168 to 3360 Polish zlotys, that is, from about 45 to 900 dollars. The final amount of the penalty depends on the size of the contraband and the personal characteristics of the failed smuggler. Of course, recidivists receive maximum punishment. For example, for the smuggling of three blocks of cigarettes (60 packs), an average of 650 zł (slightly less than $ 200) is paid. In Israel, the level of penalties depends on the number of cigarettes being transported and the number of such attempts in the past. As a rule, the smuggler pays the tax that he tried to circumvent, and the amount of the fine can reach 8 million shekels. This is more than $ 2,150,000. All these sanctions are applied to the smugglers themselves, depending on the legislation of the countries and the volume of imports. But with officials who can be caught on helping smuggling, things are getting tougher. They will receive imprisonment. In every country. And not for smuggling, but for an official crime against the state. Maybe that's why the participation of a civil servant in smuggling is an exception to the rules, and not the norm, as we have. After all, we do not notice the smuggling of those who should stop it. So the problem is not so much in smugglers as in the heads of customs, cops, prosecutors, SBU and officials of local administrations who, instead of suppressing smuggling, only encourage it. Why? Because they are only getting richer from this and they will not receive the punishment. And there are laws for this. But there are no precedents.

Now we have a fine for smuggling and confiscation of goods. And I imagine who and how would be imprisoned for smuggling in our country if criminal responsibility will be approved. The men who bring cheese and wine from Italy, because there is no other work in their region, or the director of the company who has drawn up the forest as wood chips and took it out of the country. They will be imprisoned to tell the other smugglers that the risk has increased and the price for smuggling has risen. And all the dissenters will be caught and punished severely. Because corrupt people do not like those who deprive them of bribes and bribes. And with them they will fight, as with their real enemies.

Yes, it is already obvious that the problem is not in the law. This is how the entire state system works: from a huntsman, a policeman, a prosecutor and a fiscal official to a customs officer and a border guard. Smuggling is a consequence of corruption. And corruption is a consequence of not conducted reforms and lustration. Moreover, those people who all these years have been engaged in the fight against smuggling and become richer, should not only leave but also be in jail. To do this, the NABU and anti corruption court should address this issue. But there it is little publicity, and a lot of work, so it is doubtful that in the near future the NABU will focus on this issue. They need quick and loud results.

And now we are reaping the consequences of our common long-term tolerance for corruption. The system problem requires system solutions. There will be no quick and simple solutions, it's obvious. The saddest thing is that such facts show that we again lost 4 years of life.

And now the conclusions:

    The current legislation is written at the proper level.
    Among the possible administrative penalties - Art. 461 of the Customs Code of Ukraine provides for the possibility of confiscating the contraband goods or vehicles by which the goods were transported.
    Confiscation is the most effective way to combat smuggling.

The introduction of criminal liability will not help in the fight against smuggling; statistically, it can be shown by this: until 2012 there was a criminal liability for smuggling - statistics from open sources: "In 2009, criminal cases for 445 million UAH were brought up, 1.5 million UAH was collected for the budget. In 2010, when criminal cases amount raised by 695 million UAH, the treasury received only 1.4 million UAH. And in 2011, the budget received nothing, although criminal cases for commodity smuggling were initiated at the amount of UAH 298.6 million."

    In order to overcome smuggling, you just have to comply with the law and systematically confiscate the contraband goods. And sell it at open auctions, but not allow the smugglers then to buy it for a penny or sell through their "own" trading networks.
    From the point of view of the judicial perspective, it is much easier to justify confiscation than to prove and justify the need for arrest of a criminal.
    The criminal responsibility for smuggling will not correct the situation until we apply the legislative base to state officials.
    It is necessary to create new jobs in areas where local residents are massively integrated into smuggling.

Offer people a normal job and a stable income, and they (most of them) will exchange this crime for a normal life. And in parallel it is necessary to continue to confiscate contraband. The inefficiency of processes, on the one hand, and the possibility of legal work at home, on the other, will lead to the desired result. And we, after all, should not take the local residents in jail, but stop smuggling. For this it is necessary not to try to control the flows, but to fight smuggling and those who cover it. And to do this, you need to deal with the economy, develop programs to attract investment, cleanse the judicial system from bribe takers, restore confidence in the National Police, not be populists, fight not for power, but for the future of the country, imprison thieves and revive Ukraine. I said that there were no more simple solutions. Only system and complex ones. And it's time for the leadership of Ukraine to tackle them.

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