Dutch Customs office investigating 55 possible violations of Russia, Belarus sanctions

THE HAGUE - Customs inspections in the Netherlands have uncovered 55 suspected violations of sanctions against Russia and Belarus over the last 18 months. Criminal investigations into these cases are being conducted under the direction of the country's Public Prosecution Service. 


Since the European Union enacted economic measures against both countries over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Customs has carried out more than 140,000 checks. This concerns several types of inspections, including monitoring of freight and courier shipments, and postal items. 


The sanctions prohibit the import and export of many goods. Financial transactions with different companies and individuals with ties to Russia are also not allowed. Six months ago, the total number of criminal investigations stood at 45, the Public Prosecution Service said in March. There were only 27 such cases at the end of December. 


Since the sanctions will last longer, it was expected that more companies will try to circumvent the punitive measures, a spokesperson for the Public Prosecution Service said in March, when two-thirds of cases were related to violations of import and export sanctions. The other third concerned suspicions about violations of financial sanctions. 


"Every violation of the sanctions is one too many," said State Secretary Aukje de Vries, who handles Customs office policy for the Cabinet. She paid a working visit to Customs to Schiphol Airport on Thursday. She said at the time that maintaining trade restrictions is "an important part of support for Ukraine." 

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