Exclusive interview: Head of Moldova's Customs Service speaks about integrity of underlings, borders' security, Moldovan-Romanian anticorruption operations
20:52 | 07.04.2023 Category: Interview, Event
Chisinau, 7 April /MOLDPRES/ - The head of the Customs Service, Igor Talmazan, has given an interview exclusively with the MOLDPRES State News Agency on the integrity of the customs employees, state border’s security and the operation held jointly with the anticorruption bodies of Romania at customs checkpoints.
MOLDPRES: According to the deontological norms, the work of the customs employees is based on the principles of ethics and integrity. How much confidence do you have in your underlings?
Igor Talmazan: In principle, we trust each customs employee till something opposite is proved, as we live in a rule of law state and each civil servant is obliged to observe the legislation and to share common values of professionalism, dedication, ethics, professional integrity, objectiveness, discipline, dignity and responsibility. We do not exclude that there are also people who do not share the values set forth, but evaluations are periodically held to identify them. At the same time, at the Customs Service, there is the Department of Integrity and Supervision, the goals of activity of which is the promotion of ethics and integrity while exercising the job duties. Last year, 115 workplace investigations were initiated, in the wake of which 99 customs employees were disciplinarily sanctioned, 60 ones got warnings, 18 – reprimands, 13 – severe reprimands and eight ones were dismissed from office.
MOLDPRES: During the last year, customs employees raised about 1.4 million dollars and over 870,000 euros following the registration of infringements of the law as to the introduction, shipment and getting out/bring to Moldova of cash in foreign currency. Which are the most important provisions which regulate the inflows and outflows of money from the country?
Igor Talmazan: The bringing to Moldova of cash in national currency, as well as cash and traveler’s cheques payable to bearer in foreign currency is not limited. Private people are obliged to declare in written form the sums which exceed 10,000 euros (or their equivalent) for one person. At the same time, private people have right to declare in written form the sums which do not exceed 10,000 euros (or their equivalent) for one person/travel. As for the taking out of currency from Moldova, it is important that we know that the private people have right to take out cash money in national currency, as well as cash money and traveler’s cheques payable to bearer in foreign currency in a total amount which does not exceed 10,000 euros (or their equivalent) for one person/travel, without presenting confirmative documents. Private people have right to take out cash in national currency, as well as cash money and traveler’s cheques payable to bearer in foreign currency in sums worth over 10,000 euros (or their equivalent), but which do not exceed 50,000 euros (or their equivalent) per person/travel/, on condition of presenting confirmative documents to the customs bodies for the sum which exceed 10,000 euros (or its equivalent). It is important that people take knowledge beforehand, in order to exclude unpleasant situations. For information and consultation, the Customs Service has a Single Call Centre, which works 24 hours and 7/7 days.
MOLDPRES: If infringements are detected, customs employees can sequestrate the assets of the people who cross the state border. What happens with them, where and how much time they can be preserved?
Igor Talmazan: Besides the sequestration of goods within criminal files, on contraventional cases, in cases of non-declaring of assets or their non-authentic declaring, at the entrance into Moldova, these assets can be raised by customs employees or by mobile teams, if they were detected in the second line of the customs control. The contraventional sanction is imposed depending on the character and degree of the damage of the contravention, the characteristic features of the person and the circumstances. A sanction is imposed against the person, in line with the provisions of the Contraventional Code.
After the needed evidence is accumulated as to the existence or non-existence of the fact of contravention, the inspector examiner immediately concludes the draft of the official report on the contravention and the decision enforced. He/she demands the establishment of the value in customs of the material evidence, which can represent the object of the customs contravention. If the equivalent value of the material evidence can be confiscated, the inspector examiner asks the Customs Laboratory to establish the equivalent value through the compilation of the ordinance on instructing the expertise and subsequently, a technical and scientific damage and inspection report is compiled by the laboratory. The material evidence, as a rule, is annexed to the file and is preserved in the file. The evidence which, because of the specific features, cannot be preserved in the contraventional file, is to be deposited in the preservation chamber of the customs body. Subsequently, the ordinance on recognition and attachment to file is compiled till a final decision is taken on the concerned case.
MOLDPRES: Starting from 1January, the vehicles registered in other states can be in Moldova not more than 180 days. Till the end of the last year, the term was of up to three years for the people who hold foreign driver’s licence. The change dissatisfied more citizens, who staged protests. Why this amendment was necessary and will you make changes following the requests presented by protesters?
Igor Talmazan: Starting from 1 January this year, following the amendments to the Customs Code, which entered into force, decision-makers excluded the provision, according to which the transport means introduced to the customs area by private people with residence in any foreign state and who hold driver’s licence in the country where they have residence, declared through action, can stay on the country’s customs area for a period longer than 180 days – up to three years.
This provision was excluded, in order to adjust the national framework to the provisions of the EU acquis and to the provisions of the Convention on Temporary Readmission, concluded in Istanbul on 26 June 1990, according to which ‘’the private transport means can remain on the territory of temporary admission for a continuous period or not more than 6 months, in a time interval of 12 months.’’ At the same time, to fulfill the decision of the prime minister, especially on the subject concerning the identification of solutions to the registration of these transport means in Moldova, the Finance Ministry created a working group to this end.
MOLDPRES: In last mid-January, an operation held jointly with anticorruption bodies or Romania took place. Within this action, searches were made at more customs checkpoints on both sides of the border, which regarded employees of the Customs Service and Border Police, who would have received bribe for favouring the crossing of the goods through the border without the carrying out of the customs examination. What new details were established during the inquiry, which you can communicate us, without affecting its process?
Igor Talmazan: Officers of the integrity and supervision department of the Customs Service, acting in an international investigation, initiated jointly with the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) and General Anticorruption Directorate (DGA) of Romania, made raids concomitantly with searches at customs checkpoints from both sides of the Moldovan-Romanian border. We vehemently condemn and we do not tolerate the corruption actions at the institution. At the same time, we would like to note that the Customs Service cooperates with the bodies of other states also on other cases, in order to prevent or annihilate schemes of smuggling goods. For instance, there is also a case covered in mass media: ‘’The contraband with oil meant for Servia, worth about 18 million lei.’’ The exchange of information between countries was ensured with the support of the Southeast European Law Enforcement Centre (SELEC), through the detached Liaison Officer of the Customs Service. Another case which shows an efficient collaboration is the one from the last week. ‘’Thirty seven searches in Moldova and Romania: scheme with anabolic substances worth over 1 million euros, illegally shipped to EU – de-structured and 11 people were detained.’’
MOLDPRES: In July 2022, at an initiative by President Maia Sandu, the parliament adopted a law, according to which the Moldovans who return home will be exempted from the payment of taxes on the import of goods and vehicle. How many citizens have benefited from these facilities?
Igor Talmazan: Provisions of the law on the providing of exemption from the payment of the rights to import for the Moldovan citizens who return to live in Moldova entered into force on 1 October 2022. Thus, they are allowed to import a single vehicle classified at the tariff position 8703, with exemption from the payment of the rights of import, if confirmative documents are presented and the following conditions are cumulatively observed: the term of vehicle’s exploitation is not bigger than 9 years after the production date; the vehicle’s value in customs does not exceed 400,000 lei; the engine’s cylindrical capacity does not exceed 2,500 cubic centimeters; the vehicle does not have visible defects or deteriorations; the vehicle is not meant for commercial or production activities.
Also, the citizens who return to live in Moldova are allowed to introduce personal use objects without the payment of rights to import, within the limit of the content indicated in the application submitted to the Customs Service. At the same time, following a dialogue with the involvement of parliament’s and government’s representatives, adjustings were made to the requirements which should be met, which were approved through the change of normative acts. To consult the conditions, take over the application’s form, as well as to find contact data, people interested can consult the webpage of the Customs Service, the column Private People and sub-column Diaspora.
MOLDPRES: How much the security is tightened at the Moldovan-Ukrainian border and its Transnistrian segment?
Igor Talmazan: On the Moldovan-Ukrainian segment of the border, the Customs Service carries out its job activity at the customs checkpoints. Thus, all goods and transport means are subjected to customs control. As for the Transnistrian segment, the control of assets and goods is made at the internal customs checkpoints and inclusively the patrols of the Mobile Teams of the Customs Service carry out the control.
The work of the Section of Mobile Teams of the Customs Frauds Investigation Department, the Anti-Fraud and Compliance Department is aimed at detecting, at the second control line, transport means involved in the illicit trafficking of goods, in order to combat the phenomenon of contraband, which hits the degree of collection of budget revenues. In the subdivision’s activity, in 2022, decision-makers registered 352 cases of detection of illegally transported goods. The object of the contravention represent: clothes, automotive spare parts, food products, electronic cigarettes, household appliances, TV sets, tablets, mobile phones, cosmetic products, footwear, electric pumps, electric chainsaws, bedclothes, cigarettes, ethylic alcohol and consumer goods. The customs value of the goods detected is estimated at about 25 million lei.
On the concerned period, competent people adopted 478 decisions on sanctioning and the sum of the fine collected is of more than 998,000 lei. At the same time, the Mobile Teams Section of the Customs Service delivered to the State Fiscal Service 172 earlier arrested consignments of goods worth 9.5 million lei.
Also, last year, decision-makers identified nine car parks and following verifications initiated, at these car parks, 84 notifications were registered on the detection of partially disassembled transport units with registration numbers which were earlier introduced in Moldova with the compulsoriness to take them out of the country in a period of 180 days. The Risks Analysis Department carries out an analysis of the transactions and identifies the ones with higher risk of infringing the legislation, and the Control Department subsequently intervenes with controls, in order to detect irregularities. All these subdivisions are part of the Antifraud and Compliance Department.
MOLDPRES: Mr. Igor Talmazan, thank you for the kindness to give this interview with our agency.