Harsher penalties for smuggling yields positive results

17 Jan 2019 / 20:18 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: Harsher fines and jail terms for the sale of smuggled cigarettes and liquor under the recent amendments to the the Customs Act 1967 and Excise Act 1976 has yielded a positive outcome.

Fearing the mandatory minimum jail term of six months regardless of the number of contraband liquor or cigarette packs they are caught in possession of, offenders are choosing to pay the minimum RM100,000 fine.

This was evident in two separate court cases today at the Alor Star and Selayang magistrate’s courts.

In the first case in Alor Star, the offender paid a RM100,000 fine after he was found guilty of being in possession of contraband cigarettes worth RM224.30, with unpaid duties amounting to RM1,901.62.

Had he not paid the fine, he would have faced a one-year jail sentence.

In Selayang, a trader caught with RM587.58 worth of smuggled liquor with unpaid duties amounting to RM1,607.03 was fined RM100,000 or seven months imprisonment in default. He paid the fine.

Customs Department Director-General Datuk Seri Subromaniam Tholasy told theSun today that the stiffer punishments under amendments in Section 135 of the Customs Act and Section 74 of the Excise Act came into effect on Jan 1.

“In the past, the fine was 10 times the value of the seizure. Say it is RM200, then the fine is RM2,000. So, they will plead guilty and pay the fine. Now, if it is a single pack of cigarettes or a bottle a liquor, the fine is RM100,000 or a minimum jail term of six months. We collected RM3.6 billion in revenue from tobacco alone last year and this year, we expect to see an additional RM1 billion,“ he said.

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