The importer was convicted to 6 years imprisonment, which demonstrates the severity of punishment for deliberately declaring an incorrect tariff classification. The motive for the importer’s actions were clearly to evade payment of the high amounts of duty applicable to garlic, however, there is a serious message here for all importers, not just those who set out to deliberately evade duty. Any misclassification at import may be investigated by Customs, even if a genuinely innocent mistake with no intent to evade customs duty. The consequences of a Customs investigation are, at best, a time-consuming disruption to business and at worst can lead to a custodial sentence.
So, how can a responsible business ensure they are not unwittingly exposed to a potentially damaging investigation?
The first step is to implement robust procedures which set out how an importer determines the accuracy of all data declared to Customs on an import entry. The next step is to ensure those procedures are followed as part of routine business practice.
The Customs Practice can help to implement appropriate procedures, but if the worst has already happened and Customs are launching an investigation into alleged misdeclarations, then please call us urgently on 01635 521624.