HELSINKI – Finnish customs, in cooperation with Estonian authorities, has been investigating a criminal case involving the illegal import of millions of cigarettes from Estonia and Latvia.
No import declarations were made and taxes were not paid for the cargo shipments, Finnish public broadcaster Yle reported.
According to Finnish authorities, the amount of taxes avoided in Finland is about two million euros.
As part of the criminal investigation, Finnish customs has seized, together with Estonian customs, two freight consignments containing almost half a million cigarettes in total. The seizures are part of a criminal case where it is suspected that a total of around six million cigarettes have been imported to Finland on more than 20 occasions between March and December 2022.
Some of the cigarettes were found to be counterfeit products.
During the criminal investigation, five persons have been apprehended in Finland and Estonia, and four of them have been remanded in pre-trial detention. The persons are suspected of having participated in the acquisition and sending of the cigarettes from Estonia to Finland.
The investigation has shown that the cigarettes have been distributed in Paijat-Hame and North Karelia, and possibly in other regions as well.
Sanctions on Russia and the sharp fall in traffic across Finland's eastern border have shifted many illegal imports to postal and express freight transport, the Finnish customs authority reports.
The customs authority has investigated the criminal case as aggravated tax fraud and unlawful dealing in imported goods. The preliminary investigation is about to be completed and the case will be forwarded to the Prosecution District of Southern Finland for consideration of charges.