Action Plan to suppress cigarette smuggling in Asia Pacific endorsed

11 Jun 2004

The Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department announced today (June 11) that representatives of 16 Customs Administrations in the Asia Pacific Region have drawn up an action plan to fight against transnational cigarette smuggling activities, particularly the "merry-go-round" mode (transnational smuggling by means of circumlocutory paths).

Also, attending the Meeting are representatives of the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO) Asia Pacific.

The Action Plan, entitled "Project Crocodile", was unanimously endorsed this morning (June 11) at the First Meeting of World Customs Organization (WCO) Contact Points for Anti-Cigarette Smuggling Operations in Asia Pacific Region hosted by Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.

Through the implementation of the Action Plan, participating Customs Administrations aim to monitor the movement of all suspicious cigarette shipments when they are imported, re-exported or transshipped across Customs territories.

The Action Plan comprises three major parts, namely, a monitoring system, a notification system, and investigation and prosecution.

Through the establishment of a monitoring system, participating Customs Administrations and the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO) Asia Pacific will keep track of the movement of suspicious cigarette shipments in the Region and ensure that they will stay on their proper course. In case they identify any change in the identity of the cigarettes and diversion of the cigarettes from their normal tracks, they will conduct speedy follow-up investigations.

Under the immediate seizure notification system, Customs Administrations will proactively, through a unified communication channel, exchange intelligence on smuggling cases effected instantly to RILO Asia Pacific and the exporting member administration.

On the aspects of joint investigation and operation, Customs Administrations will closely liaise with each other, and when necessary, seek assistance from other members from whom the concerned suspicious shipment has been exported or transshipped. This is essential to help individual Customs Administrations to eradicate transnational smuggling syndicates who may be hiding in other jurisdictions.

The 16 Customs Administrations participating in the "First Meeting of World Customs Organization (WCO) Contact Points for Anti-Cigarette Smuggling Operations in Asia Pacific Region" are Australia, Brunei, China, Hong Kong China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Macao China, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

Ends/Friday, June 11, 2004

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