About 80 transports covered by EU sanctions under preliminary investigation by Customs
Finnish Customs has started more than 130 preliminary surveys on transports under import and export sanctions imposed by the EU on Russia and Belarus. About 80 cases are currently under preliminary investigation.
The European Union has imposed extensive sanctions against Russia and Belarus due to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. As the implementing authority, the tasks of Finnish Customs include enforcing the sanctions on goods agreed at EU level.
During the first four months, preliminary surveys have covered especially electronics such as computers, phones, routers, as well as integrated circuits and microcontrollers. Furthermore, Customs has started preliminary surveys on boats and boating-related products. Some of the products under preliminary surveys are dual-use goods, meaning products that can be used for both civilian and military purposes.
Sanctions also cover luxury goods, meaning items worth more than 300 euros. Such products include smartphones, sports equipment and jewellery, as well as many clothes and accessories. About 20 reports of criminal offences concerning luxury goods have been submitted.
– Our preliminary investigations cover about 80 cases regarded as rationing offences of varying degrees. The number has risen significantly during the past month, and we have already forwarded a few cases to the prosecutor. The increase is partly due to sanctions being extended to cover a wider range of products. However, there are now also cases that do not involve ignorance about regulations. Instead, the activity in these cases can be considered regular, says Mr Hannu Sinkkonen, Director of Enforcement.
– In about 40 cases, we have concluded that there is no reason start a preliminary investigation. This is because, for example, we have been able to confirm that these transports of products under enforcement of sanctions have started before the sanctions took effect, which means that the cases cannot be regarded as deliberate acts, says Mr Sinkkonen.
As for other cases, preliminary surveys are still ongoing. Almost all cases involve international cooperation.
The sanctions imposed by the EU on Russia have increased the number of sanctions-related preliminary surveys and investigations by Customs, as Customs has usually conducted an average of ten preliminary investigations annually. Preliminary investigations relating to sanctions usually take time, as they almost without exception involve extensive acquisition of information both domestically and internationally.
The monitoring of the sanctions as well as the related preliminary investigations are part of the normal daily work of Finnish Customs as an authority that supervises bans and restrictions in goods and passenger traffic.
Hannu Sinkkonen, Head of Customs Investigation, Director of Enforcement, tel. 040 332 4389, hannu.sinkkonen(at)tulli.fi, Twitter: @SinkkonenHannu