On January 31, 2018 the amendments to the Administrative Offenses Code of the Republic of Belarus came into effect.
The most important changes are the following: (1) confiscation is converted to a fine, (2) in some cases mandatory confiscation is converted to an alternative one, (3) possibility of forfeiture are restricted if the person guilty of an administrative offense is not identified.
The majority of administrative offenses in the customs sphere were related to non-declaring or false declaration of goods (Article 14.5 of the Administrative Offenses Code). It often led to mistakes in filling shipping documents or in incorrect collection of goods.
In that case, it was exactly the carrier who was prosecuted, the person who presented documents for customs declaration at the stage of customs transit. At the same time, a fine was imposed on him, and the goods that did not really belong to him were forfeitured.
Determination of guilt or innocence of the carrier for non-declaring or false declaration of goods was based on the following provision of the CMR Convention: according to Part 1 of Art.8 of the CMR Convention, upon acceptance of the goods, the corrier is obliged to check the compliance of the actual number of packages with the instructions in the shipping documents.
Thereby, the carrier was prosecuted if there was a discrepancy found between the actual number of cargo packages of the goods with the quantity indicated in the shipping documents or the inconsistency between the external condition of the cargo and its packing and the information specified in the shipping documents.
There was also an extensive practice of forfeituring the subject of an administrative offense, if the case was terminated due to failure to identify the person guilty of it.
Currently it is a fine of up to 30% of the value of the subject matter of an administrative offense to be envisaged as sanction for a legal entity by Sections 1, 3 of Article 14.5 of the Administrative Offenses Code. Consequently, the responsibility for the Sections 1, 3 of Article 14.5 of the Administrative Offenses Code is held by an international cargo carrier who acts as a customs declarant at the stage of customs transit. And whereas previously it was limited to a fine of 30-50 base units, now the amount of the fine is tied to the value of the undeclared cargo.
Forfeiture of goods seized as a subject of an administrative offense is limited to the property withdrawn from turnover. Namely, any property that is the subject of an offense will no longer be subject to forfeiture.