The district administrative court of Nikolayev on February 12 found illegal the decision of Nikolayev customs service which had forbidden the vessel to leave Nikolayev seaport.
The tug was detained by the reason of leaving the seaport on June 23 2015 and buying additional fuel in neutral waters. In addition, the ship owner purchased polypropylene rope for towing operations.
The tug returned to the seaport on June 25 2015. The vessel had 11 tons of fuel on board prior to the departure, which was shown during customs control. When the vessel returned, the master filed the declaration containing the information about the fuel of 98 tons. Since polypropylene rope belongs to ship equipment, it was not declared during customs control. All the declarations were accepted by Nikolayev customs service without any objections and the vessel got the permission to cross the border.
Two days after, on June 27 2015, the master received the report on the violation of the art. 472 of Customs Code of Ukraine – non-declaration of goods and commercial vehicles. Sanction of this Article provides for a penalty of 100% of the value of the goods with mandatory confiscation.
As the only purpose of the departure was fuel purchase, Nikolayev customs service considered the fuel as goods and insisted that customs duties to be imposed. The rope was also identified as goods because it was new and had not been used on board before.
On June 30 and July 6 2015 Nikolayev customs service prohibited the vessel to leave the port. The decision was based on the necessity of confiscating the goods in accordance with the art. 511 of Customs Code of Ukraine. However, since in practice customs do not have special tools and equipment and actually cannot provide a seizure of the goods, in such cases, the ship has no permission to leave port water area until the situation is resolved.
“The situation in Nikolayev region is absurd. If we follow the logic of customs officers you can charge any master of a foreign going vessel that enters Nikolayev seaport with penalties. There is fuel on board which has been bought abroad. I think we see the customs service practices discrimination. Such actions may result not only in the reduction of export-import potential of the country but also affect the reputation of Ukraine as a seafaring country” Tatyana Titarenko, the CEO of LeGran.TT, commented on the situation.
Having analyzed the facts of the case, LeGran.TT experts submitted a claim against the illegal actions of customs officers, and the illegal decision of Nikolayev customs service to prohibit the vessel from leaving port. In particular, the lawyers pointed out that there were no rules prohibiting the purchase of ships’ stores and equipment abroad. Upon hearing the arguments of the parties, the court satisfied the claim in full.