European commission — olaf — further major seizure of smuggled cigarettes in greece thanks to information gathered by olaf

13 May 2014

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On 6 May 2014, Greek authorities carried out a further successful operation against international cigarette smugglers. On the basis of information gathered by the European Anti Fraud Office (OLAF), the Financial and Economic Crime Unit (SDOE) and Greek customs seized nine million contraband cigarettes.

OLAF received information from reliable sources about a container declared as loaded with chairs, but strongly suspected to contain contraband cigarettes. On 17 February, the container was transported from the port of Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates to the free zone of Port Klang in Malaysia. The same container was then shipped to Port Piraeus in Greece, with a Greek company located in Thessaloniki declared as final destination.

OLAF informed Greek Customs of the suspicious container in March. Upon its arrival in Piraeus, Greek authorities checked the container on 6 May and discovered that it was loaded with 900 master cases of RGD brand cigarettes (that is nine million cigarettes). Furthermore, preliminary investigations revealed that the consignee was fake.

Unpaid duties and taxes on the smuggled cigarettes amount to nearly EUR 1.6 million in this new case. Taking into account two earlier seizures of cigarettes smuggled from Port Klang to Piraeus in March, OLAF and Greek authorities have prevented the loss of more than nearly EUR nine million in the three operations carried out in recent weeks.

See related press release no. 4 «Second major seizure of smuggled cigarettes in Greece within a week prevents loss of several million eurosAll available translations.«

The mission of the European Anti Fraud Office (OLAF) is threefold it protects the financial interests of the European Union by investigating fraud, corruption and any other illegal activities it detects and investigates serious matters relating to the discharge of professional duties by members and staff of the EU institutions and bodies that could result in disciplinary or criminal proceedings and it supports the EU institutions, in particular the European Commission, in the development and implementation of anti fraud legislation and policies.

For further details
European Anti Fraud Office (OLAF)
Phone 32 2 295 73 36
E mail olaf media


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Bbc news — meps tighten anti-tobacco laws aimed at young smokers

Packs of 10 cigarettes, considered popular among younger smokers, will also be banned.

Fourteen EU states already have 20 as the minimum, four stipulate a minimum of 19, and in the UK and Italy the minimum is 10.

Smaller than normal packs of roll your own tobacco will still be allowed under the new rules.

It was the European Parliament’s first reading of a draft tobacco directive which could become law in 2014. It would then take two more years to become law in each of the 28 EU member states.

There has been intense lobbying of MEPs by the tobacco industry and health campaigners.

The Commission says almost 700,000 Europeans die from smoking related illnesses each year equal to the population of Frankfurt or Palermo. The costs for healthcare in the EU are estimated to be at least 25.3bn euros ( 20.6bn $33.4bn) annually.

Mixed reactions

Conservative and Liberal MEPs welcomed the amendments made to the original proposal from Labour’s Linda McAvan.

Speaking to the BBC, Ms McAvan said she was disappointed that slim cigarettes were not banned.

But cigarette packaging made to look like lipstick or perfume containers attractive to girls will disappear, she noted.

There will now be further negotiations with the Council the grouping of relevant EU ministers. MEPs may manage to avoid a second vote and fast track the legislation so that it is adopted before the May 2014 European elections.

The proposals also include a ban on words like «light», «mild» and «low tar», deemed to be misleading, and a ban on oral tobacco called snus although Sweden would retain its exemption.

EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg called the vote «positive». «I am confident that the revised Directive on Tobacco Products can still be adopted within the mandate of the current Parliament,» he said.

But Carl Schlyter MEP, health spokesman for the Greens, called it «a shameful day for the European Parliament, as a centre right majority, led by the EPP group, has done the bidding of the tobacco industry and voted for weaker rules».