Tax Law - Criminal Tax Law - White Collar Crime - Customs Crime - Criminal Customs Law

Deutsche Version

Criminal customs law

The Customs Code is a European customs regulation under Community law, and as such it does not provide for criminal customs law rules.  Community law lacks competence in respect of criminal law.  Criminal or penal matters remain the affairs of the individual EU member states.

In Germany, customs fraud constitutes a fiscal offence under Section 370 of the German Fiscal Code (Abgabenordnung, AO). Sections 369 et seq. AO provide for specific criminal offences, e.g., violation of tariff laws (Section 372 AO), organized smuggling, or smuggling in a violent manner or as a gang member (Section 373 AO), reception of smuggled goods (Section 374 AO), forgery of revenue stamps (Sections 148, 149 German Penal Code and Section 369 para. 1 no. 3 AO) as well as acting as an accessory after the fact (Section 369 para 1 no. 4 AO).  In addition to these specific offenses, any acts of European Customs fraud committed to the disadvantage of member states of the EU, the EFTA or a state associated therewith are also punishable under Section 370 para. 6 AO.

Administrative customs offences include fiscal evasion by failure to exercise due care (Section 378 AO), minor tax fraud (Section 379 AO), minor consumer tax fraud (Section 381 AO) and minor fraud pertaining to import and export duties (Section 382 AO).

Despite its lack of competence to impose criminal sanctions on its own, the EU takes the battle against the violation of EU laws very seriously.


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