New tobacco offences

New tobacco offences

The Federal Parliament has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives this week proposing a spate of new tobacco excise fraud offences, which if passed, will mean that increased maximum penalties will apply and it will become easier for the prosecution to prove their case.

The new legislation will introduce the following new offences:

  • possess, buy or sell tobacco in Australia in quantities over 5kg where there is a reasonable suspicion that the excise has not been paid;
  • intentionally possess, buy or sell tobacco in Australia for which the full amount of excise duty has not been paid;
  • possess equipment used or for use in producing or manufacturing illicit tobacco.

There will also be a new infringement notice regime and civil penalties in relation to other conduct.

The maximum penalties for the new offences will be on a tiered basis depending on the amount of tobacco alleged to be involved.

Under the current law, possession of tobacco by a person in Australia for which the excise duty has not been paid attracts a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment or the higher of 500 penalty units (currently $105,000) or 5 times the duty payable.

Under the new legislation, the penalties for possess, buy or sell tobacco where there is a reasonable suspicion that excise has not be paid will attract the following maximum penalties:

  • 5kg or more: 200 penalty units (currently $42,000) or 5 times the amount of the duty payable, whichever is higher.
  • 100kg or more: 2 years imprisonment or the higher of either 500 penalty units (currently $105,000) or 5 times the duty payable.
  • 500kg or more: 5 years imprisonment or the higher of 1000 penalty units (currently $210,000) or 5 times the amounts of the duty payable.

The penalties for the proposed offences of intentionally possess, buy or sell tobacco in Australia for which the full amount of duty has not been paid are:

  • 5kg or more: 500 penalty units (currently $105,000) or 5 times the amount of the duty payable, whichever is higher.
  • 100kg or more: 5 years imprisonment or the higher of either 500 penalty units (currently $210,000) or 5 times the duty payable.
  • 500kg or more: 10 years imprisonment or the higher of 1000 penalty units (currently $315,000) or 5 times the amounts of the duty payable.

Another bill is to be introduced at a later time to make amendments to the Customs Act in relation to the importation of tobacco. Watch this space.

Police interview - should I do one?

Police interview - should I do one?

The do's and don'ts of character references

The do's and don'ts of character references