Customs Offences And The Consequences

What causes revenue leakage from the borders where FRCA operate from? The revenue is lost either through fraud and inadvertent errors.  Some of this revenue leakage can also be through
09 Apr 2016 10:52
Customs Offences And The Consequences

What causes revenue leakage from the borders where FRCA operate from?

The revenue is lost either through fraud and inadvertent errors.  Some of this revenue leakage can also be through collusion between traders and Customs agents or even Customs officers at times.

Please elaborate further on Customs fraud.

Customs fraud is simply acts of dishonesty which deprive government of revenue (customs duties and Import VAT) to which it would be entitled for.

The fraudulent companies thus gain competitive advantage over honest traders by having lower costs for their products yet selling at the same prices.

What are common types of commercial fraud in Fiji?

  1. Evasion of the duty and tax payment by under valuing goods, declaring wrong classification of goods or producing false declaration on origin of goods.
  2. Evasion of prohibition, restriction or requirements for import and/or export (e.g. not obtaining required permits or license; smuggling and narcotics); or
  3. Unauthorized receipt of repayment, subsidy and/or disbursement; or
  4. Gaining illicit commercial advantage (e.g. abuse of concession); and
  5. Transfer of proceeds of crime using import or export of goods (Trade-based money laundering).

What are common types of common inadvertent errors?

Example: Tariff misclassification; wrong weight (e.g. slight difference in weight on Bill of Lading, when compared to actual goods); incorrect currency, etc.

What is the penalty for committing the above Customs Offences?

The penalty is a fine not exceeding FJD$10,000 under Section 137, Customs Act 1986.


What is the penalty for fraudulent evasion of duty (e.g. undervaluation or overvaluation of goods) for assessment of customs duty?

The penalty is a fine not exceeding 3 times the value of the goods or FJD$20,000 whichever is greater or to imprisonment for 2 years or both such fines and imprisonment and forfeiture of goods, if any under Section 139, Customs Act 1986.


How do you detect customs fraud in Fiji?  

Customs fraud is detected through routine execution of Customs work by FRCA officers and alerts sent by informers local or abroad.

FRCA is encouraging informers to call on 3243000/3243666 or email on FRCA encourages community partnership and support of stakeholders in trade facilitation to further strengthen Customs fraud detection.

FRCA detects Customs fraud through routine Customs works. The goods are screened at virtual border, before the goods arrive in Fiji using intelligence risk management system. Once the goods arrive in Fiji, the goods are assessed using Asycuda World (AW) profiles before it is released to the importer.

The profiled imports are physically examined for any discrepancies. Where goods have been released by Customs, the goods are further monitored through documentary evidence submitted to FRCA. Thus, Post Clearance Audits are conducted and if any fraud is detected the importer is subjected to full investigation by Customs Investigation Branch (CIB).

Common examples of fraud are false declaration to FRCA officers, submitting false documents to clear goods, making false statements, bribing FRCA officers, interfering with system, abusing Concessions, counterfeiting and obstructing FRCA officer to conduct official duties.


How can a person’s actions obstruct FRCA officer from effectively conducting routine Customs duties?

Any person:

(a)          Hinders, molests, assaults, uses threatening language, attempts to intimidate or bribes any FRCA officer duly engaged in the performance of any duty or any person acting in his or her aid; or |

(b)          Any impediments or intention to obstruct FRCA officer to carry out any search for anything liable to detention or seizure under Customs legislations; or

(c)           Any rescues, damages or destroys anything so liable to forfeiture; or

(d)          Any intend to prevent the procuring or giving of evidence as to whether or not anything is so liable to forfeiture; or

(e)          Any act to intentional impair the effectiveness of Custom use or intended use for Customs purposes, or

(f)           Anyone who prevents the arrest of any person during cause of Customs duties by FRCA officer.


What is the penalty of obstructing and assaulting FRCA officer?  

The penalty is a fine not exceeding $20,000.00 or imprisonment for 4 years or to both such fine and imprisonment under Section 123(g), Customs Act 1986.


Continued in next week’s column

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