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bulavinvi_eng Vladimir Ivanovich Bulavin
 Head of the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation
“Fly-by-night company” scheme cut short on account of importation of smuggled cellular phones

As well as offering a streamlined importation process to bona fide companies which import household appliances and home electronics, the Customs Service intercepts channels of illegal importation. Thus, an unstated quantity of Motorola cellular phones was discovered in the course of the customs inspection of one of the consignments. On account of this discovery, proceedings were initiated on the matter of administrative violation, under the Code on Administrative Violations of Russia, Article 16.2, Part 1. The phones were imported by a certain company named “D”. In the course of the check-up procedure carried out by officers of the Customs Inspection Administration together with the Central Customs Administration as part of the investigation of the case, in connection with cellular phones imported by the Limited Liability Company “D”, it was established that the above organization had distinctive features, typical of a “fly-by-night” company. In other words, its location was not at the registered offices, its equity stake was minimum, and its company promoter was the CEO and the Chief Accountant at the same time. This national, holding three offices at a time, turned out to be a student at a Moscow university, and, furthermore, was living in a hostel. At the same time, under his auspices the company had concluded the purchase contract at a value of more than 1.5 million US dollars.

When interviewed, the student confirmed his position as that of Director General, and the fact that he had concluded the foreign-trade contract and presented the imported commodities for customs clearance. However, he was unable to explain the location of the company’s registered offices, accounting documents and storage facilities, nor how and to whom the commodities were realized. A suit will have to be filed against the “student–director”.

At present, a special customs inspection audit of “D” LTD is under way. It was established that the imported phones had been sold to “K” LTD. Again, the company’s location did not coincide with the registered offices, the latter being, in fact, totally unknown. Notably, both companies had their accounts in one and the same commercial bank. These facts suggest well-organized commodity importation schemes to Russia and further sales of these commodities with the aid of “fly-by-night” companies. Such schemes make it possible to evade not only customs charges but inland revenue as well. Countermeasures against “fly-by-night” companies are a priority of the FCS of Russia. Such firms transact single deals and flee. The solution to this problem lies primarily in the field of legislation. Indeed, these firms present themselves to customs with a full set of documents of association issued in accordance with a statute-established procedure. As a rule, once the imported commodities are released into free circulation, follow-up activities carried out in respect of “fly-by-night” companies and bringing them to account become hampered, and the problem of extra charges and customs charges due to recovery payment remains. Taking measures to expose and repress the activities of “fly-by-night” companies would be impossible without maintaining close interaction between customs, law enforcement and other supervisory authorities. At present, a close information exchange is being established between customs and other law enforcement authorities, which, within its framework, provides for the implementation of current information in respect of shareholders and executive officers of organizations, as well as for the accumulation of information in respect of lost and false passports, etc. These measures will continue to be actively implemented.

 
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