Customs' enforcement has responded comprehensively to the sanctions against Russia, according to a recent press release. The export and import sanctions imposed by the EU on Russia over the past year have been extensive, with each new sanctions package extending the enforcement and reinforcing the aim of the previous packages.
Based on customs declarations in the last year, Customs has discovered close to 21,000 potentially irregular shipments.
Of these, more than 1,300 cases were subject to targeted control, and around 300 cases were referred for preliminary investigation. The sanctions have also had a significant impact on the international flow of goods.
The nine sanctions packages of the past year have shaped the EU's sanctions against Russia in a comprehensive way, and the categories of goods covered by the sanctions are extensive. Customs supervises the enforcement of export and import sanctions in respect of cross-border flows of goods.
Customs has tried to carry out the supervision of sanctions comprehensively right from the first package of sanctions. The director of the Enforcement Department, Sami Rakshit, stated that they actively highlighted the phenomena that have hindered the effectiveness of the sanctions and, if necessary, leaks have been plugged into the sanctions regulations.
The goods traffic at the Finnish eastern border has decreased significantly because of the sanctions. Customs enforces sanctions based on acquired information as extensively as possible and screens products subject to sanctions from the flow of goods based on risk analysis. Moreover, Customs assists in the identification and localization of property of individuals and entities on the EU sanctions lists.
The export shipments subject to sanctions have contained many IT products, other high-tech products, as well as luxury products, but the variation is very wide due to the coverage of the sanctions.
The need for customs controls has increased due to the scale of export and import sanctions, and Customs has directed its resources as needed. During the year, Customs has carried out targeted inspections of more than 1,300 goods transports and sent a separate statement request regarding around 650 transports to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which in the end has outlined whether or not the product is subject to sanctions.
The sanctions imposed by the EU against Russia have also had a significant impact on the international trade in goods. Currently, 95% of Finland's international trade is transported by sea. The number of companies doing business with Russia has decreased significantly. Finnish Customs has estimated that currently, about 40 Finnish companies import products from Russia, and about 220 companies engage in export to Russia.
Most transports under sanctions was stopped in road traffic. Preliminary investigations related to the violation of export sanctions were started involving transports containing computers, phones, drones, routers, microchips and microcontrollers, as well as products relating to boats and boating. Finnish Customs has also started preliminary investigations of transports of luxury products and cash currency to Russia.
In all, more than 300 regulation offences were subjected to a preliminary investigation. Of these, around 140 were subjected to limited preliminary investigation procedures relating to fines and around 190 cases were subjected to a normal preliminary investigation because of sanctions violations.
Last year caused a huge increase in the number of suspected regulation offences referred for preliminary investigation. In general, there have been a few cases per year, but over three hundred last year. Charges are being considered in about ten cases, and the courts have given sentences in some cases. So the processes are lengthy, says Enforcement Director Hannu Sinkkonen.
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