VILNIUS – Amid an increase in attempts to bring cash, linked to criminal activities and the war in Ukraine and broken down into small amounts, from Russia and Belarus into Lithuania, the government proposes to impose harsher punishment for those who help smuggle in the money and to allow the authorities to confiscate it.
The Cabinet approved on Wednesday legislative amendments to increase fines for providing inaccurate information on the origin, ownership and purpose of money.
The parliament will be asked to adopt the legislation, which is expected to help stem the flow of such cash into Lithuania, under a fast-track procedure.
"In many cases, in order to avoid the obligation to declare cash, individuals crossing the border in groups split up the amounts of cash they are carrying into smaller amounts equivalent to less than 10,000 euros," the Finance Ministry says.
The proposed amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences and the Law on Tax Administration call for a fine of between 390 euros and 1,200 euros for inaccurate information on cash brought across the border, and between 1,040 and 3,900 euros for a repeated violation.
Currently, a person can be fined between 200 euros and 1,200 euros for inaccurate information on cash, which is not an effective sanction, according to the drafters of the amendments.
Data from the Finance Ministry show that in December and January, Lithuanian customs officers recorded 84 cases of Russian, Belarusian, Polish and Lithuanian citizens attempting to bring more than 41 million Ukrainian hryvnias (about 1.05 million euros) into the country.
"According to data obtained by the Lithuanian Customs in cooperation with European law enforcement authorities, the money may be linked to criminal activities and hostilities in Ukraine," the drafters of the amendments say.
It is said that a similar situation is observed in neighboring countries.