WATCH: Record year of seizures by Customs of contraband cigarettes, fake objects and drugs
Next week’s celebration in Malta marking the 50th anniversary of the organisation which embraces the EU’s customs departments is being remembered in a year in which the Maltese Customs registered records of seizures of contraband cigarettes, drugs and fake objects. Customs director general, Joseph Chetcuti, said that a strong customs on the border is another tool in the fight against organized crime and money laundering.
The Customs department has just unloaded in its warehouses 37 million contraband cigarettes, packed in carton boxes, which were seized in four containers at the Freeport. The cigarettes, which left Cambodia and were destined to Libya are of a popular brand in Egypt, however it resulted that there were not original. Customs Director General, Mr Chetcuti, stated that this was confirmed by the legal representatives in Malta of the company that manufactures these cigarettes. These representatives initiated proceedings in the Civil Court on the falsification of the brand.
Mr Chetcuti added “they will remain here until the case is heard in Court, then when the Court decides, we will act according to the Court’s decision”.
He stated that fake cigarettes constitute a breach of intellectual property rights as theft to renowned firms which operate according to labour regulations. Such products are of an inferior quality and cause worse damage to health. Mr Chetcuti remarked that profits from fake cigarettes are greater, with the money may on many instances be directed to finance terrorism.
With two months remaining for the end of the year, Customs has already achieved good results in the fight against crime with all time record seizures. With this week’s operation, the amount of contraband cigarettes seized this year have risen to 54 million. The department also seized 86 million fake products, four times the amount seized during the previous two years. Another record was registered in cannabis seizures – 11 tons; while this year Customs has seized two kilograms of cocaine.
“These records are the result of the Government’s investment in Customs and its confidence in our work. An investment both in technology, recruitment and officers’ training; and the results are there”, Mr Chetcuti added.
Meanwhile, next Friday the Customs department will organize a day’s activities aimed at making people aware of its work. Activities, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of EU organization of customs departments, include the launching of a publication, a children’s game, a special parliamentary session and activities for the public outside Parliament building.