Development of the practice of administrative sanctions for not submitting statistics forms to a customs authority when moving goods between EAEU countries

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The version of the Russian Federation Administrative Offenses Code in effect since early 2017 says that there are administrative sanctions for not submitting the statistics form tracking the movement of goods to a customs authority, or for late submission.

Although goods can move freely within the EAEU, Russian law requires participants in foreign trade to report such movement (whether associated with a transaction or not). Otherwise there is a risk of administrative sanctions under Article 19.7.13 of the RF Administrative Offenses Code, which provides for imposing a fine of between RUB 10,000 and RUB 15,000 on officers and between RUB 20,000 and RUB 50,000 on legal entities. The fine for a repeat offense goes up and could reach a maximum of RUB 30,000 for officers and RUB 100,000 for legal entities per instance of failing to submit (or late submission of) the reporting form, or for submitting a form with inaccurate information. Don’t forget that under this article the customs authorities can open an administrative offense case simultaneously against an officer (i.e., the person responsible for reporting to the customs authority, or the general director) and against a legal entity.

There are exceptions for certain categories of goods the movement of which does not trigger an obligation to submit a statistics form (for example, individuals’ goods for personal use, goods transported for repair or maintenance, for use during fairs and exhibitions, product samples, goods temporarily imported or exported for less than one year, and goods that are subject to declaration (commodities)).

Three illegal acts are elements of the offense under Article 19.7.13 of the RF Administrative Offenses Code:

  • Failure to submit the statistics form
  • Late submission of the statistics form (the deadline is no later than the eighth business day of the month following the month in which the goods were shipped from the warehouse or received at the warehouse)
  • Submission of the statistics form on time but indicating inaccurate information (e.g., wrong name of the seller or buyer, country of origin, product code, description)

There is no administrative investigation of this type of case: it is enough to find one of the three facts, which will evidence an offense has occurred.

The customs authorities may attempt to treat the commission of several of the above-mentioned acts (for example, late submission of a statistics form that also contains inaccurate information) as multiple offenses; however, the courts unequivocally confirm that in that case the commission of several acts that are all part of a single offense is not cumulative and constitutes grounds to characterize the acts as a single administrative offense (for example, the Urals Circuit Commercial (Arbitrazh) Court Judgment of February 1, 2019 in case No. А07-16083/2018). This position should not be confused with the situation where there were shipments under several different contracts within a single month. In that case shipment under each contract (failure to submit a separate statistics form for the shipment) will constitute grounds for a separate administrative offense.

Practice shows that the number of cases being opened by the customs authorities under Article 19.7.13 of the RF Administrative Offenses Code is currently growing. This can be explained first of all by the “simplicity” of the set of elements of this offense (there is no administrative investigation). Secondly, by the fact that foreign trade participants think the obligation to monitor and submit statistics reporting is “insignificant.” However, the fines could be high, especially for companies that regularly move goods within the EAEU.

The courts, for their part, definitely support the customs authorities’ position and generally deny companies’ petitions to exempt them from administrative liability under Article 2.9 of the RF Administrative Offenses Code because the administrative offense is minor. The courts see the offense as a serious threat to the social interactions protected by law.

We recommend paying particular attention to ensuring that accurate statistics reports are submitted to the customs authorities on time: if an administrative offense case is opened, the outcome for the foreign trade participant is unlikely to be good.

Dentons’ Tax and Customs practice has extensive experience advising companies on administrative liability for customs offenses and representing clients in administrative proceedings and court appeals. ffff