Syndicates and traders selling illicit cigarettes and alcohol will face higher fines beginning January with the recently-approved amendments to the Customs Act 1967 and Excise Act 1976. (NSTP Archive)

SUBANG JAYA: Syndicates and traders selling illicit cigarettes and alcohol will face higher fines beginning January with the recently-approved amendments to the Customs Act 1967 and Excise Act 1976.

Customs Department director-general Datuk Seri Subromaniam Tholasy said the minimum fine had increased to a minimum of RM100,000 for traders who sold a single carton of smuggled cigarettes.

“The amendments were approved by the Dewan Rakyat after being read thrice in Parliament and then brought before the Dewan Negara. We expect that the amendments will be enforced beginning Jan 1,” he told reporters after the 86th Meeting of Customs Department Directors.

Subromaniam said the amendment to the Customs Act involved smuggling, avoidance of payment of duties and fraud.

“The amendment to Section 135 (of the Customs Act) has increased the fine for the first offence. The first offence now involves a fine of no less than 10 times the amount of unpaid duties or RM100,000, whichever is higher, and no more than 20 times the amount of unpaid duties or RM500,000, whichever is higher, or a jail term of up to five years, or both.

“Repeat offenders, meanwhile, are liable to a fine of no less than 20 times the amount of unpaid duties or RM500,000, whichever is higher, and no more than 40 times the amount of unpaid duties or RM1 million, whichever is higher, or a jail term of seven years, or both,” he said.

Sibromaniam said the department had also taken steps to tighten requirements for tobacco import licences.

“Companies which have import licences of three years or more must now bring in a minimum of 10 million sticks of cigarettes annually. Those with licences of less than three years will have to bring in a minimum of five million sticks.

“The reason why we have put in these minimums is to prevent companies from abusing the licences,” he said.