The Malta Independent 19 March 2019, Tuesday

Restaurant caught selling contraband wine

Friday, 15 February 2019, 16:52 Last update: about 1 month ago

During a routine market surveillance exercise, customs officials from the enforcement unit seized 520 bottles of wine, without an excise duty stamp on them, from a restaurant in Paceville.

An investigation by the department's Excise Directorate into past imports by the same restaurant uncovered several other thousands of wine bottles that were placed on the market without paying the relative taxes.

Meanwhile, customs officials stationed at the Airport found over €22,000 during a coordinated search in the departure lounge by the department's anti-money laundering team and the canine unit.

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The officials were screening passengers, when Sophie, the customs sniffer dog, indicated that a particular passenger might be carrying large amounts of cash. Following a personal search on the passenger, the amount of €16,100 was detected. A thorough search on his hand luggage was then conducted with another €1,365 being discovered. Immediately, the two already checked-in personal pieces of luggage on the passenger's name were off-loaded from the aircraft and a further €4,950 were elevated.

The total amount of undeclared cash subsequent to all the searches conducted on his person and on his luggage amounted to €22,415.

The passenger was handed over to police anti-money laundering Unit for further investigations. He is expected to be arraigned in court, tomorrow. Last year the customs department recorded a record breaking year in undeclared cash cases as they stregthened their efforts at targetting money laundering. Under European law, which has also been adapted by most countries around the globe, cash over the sum of €10,000 needs to be declared to customs when arriving or departing the country.


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