Estonian customs board detects 3,000 attempts to breach Russian sanctions
Since Russia's full-scale military invasion of Ukraine began last February, the Estonian Tax and Customs Board has identified around 3,000 attempts by private individuals and legal entities to circumvent the sanctions imposed in response.
The Estonian Tax and Customs Board has inspected more than 53,000 shipments of goods since Russia began its full-scale military invasion of Ukraine last February. In that time, the board has identified around 3,000 attempts to breach the sanctions. The statistics include Estonian citizens and companies as well as citizens from other EU Member States.
Külli Kurvits, head of the customs department at the Estonian Tax and Customs Board, told ERR radio, that when it comes to private individuals there are two sanctions in particular that have been most commonly breached.
"For private individuals, we can say that the ban on carrying cash out of the country is often violated. There are a huge number of cases of non-compliance with the ban on the export of cash in euros from the European Union," Kurvits said.
Last year, the tax authorities detected around 200 such transgressions. The sums of money, which people were seeking to take out of the country mostly ranged from a few thousand up to tens of thousands of euros.
In addition to attempts to flout restrictions on removing cash from the country, individuals have also fallen foul of the rules regarding the transportation of luxury items across the border.
"For example, very often people want to export expensive wines or champagne as well as different kinds of technical equipment. These are all covered by the ban on exporting luxury goods," Kurvits said. "Private individuals have also tried to breach of the ban on the export of cars," she added.
Among the offences committed by legal entities, Kurvits pointed to infringements of the ban on the export of machinery and mechanical appliances.
"The prices of goods are different and therefore the orders of magnitude are also different. We might be talking about thousands of euros in some case, but also (in other cases) millions of euros," she explained.
Kurvits said, that 1,500 sanction violations were detected between the start of Russia's full-scale invasion in February and the end of 2022. However, the same number of violations have already been identified in the first three of months of this year alone.
Kurvits added, that 171 individuals and 65 legal entities are currently subject to entry restrictions as well as those regarding the freezing and availability of funds.
Last year, Estonia's Financial Intelligence Unit authorized 96 exemptions to the sanctions. Most were issued for the export of fertilizers from the ports of Muuga and Sillamäe.
Due to Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, Western countries have imposed a series of sanctions on Russia and Belarus, as well as frozen assets belonging to certain individuals and legal entities. On March 13, the measures already in force were extended by a further six months, to September 15.
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Editor: Michael Cole