“MUCH IMPROVED PROTECTION AGAINST ILLICIT TRADE IN AND THROUGH COSTA RICA”

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“MUCH IMPROVED PROTECTION AGAINST ILLICIT TRADE IN AND THROUGH COSTA RICA”

It will now be much easier to find and stop illicit goods travelling to, and through, Costa Rica.

The latest move marks a major step forward. Various private organizations and public authorities have come together to evaluate Costa Rica´s current position in the fight against illicit trade. They have agreed a strong course of action that will bring power back towards industry and law-abiding companies.

In the near future, the Ministry of Treasury will be filing a bill of law that will include, among other things, higher penalties against infractors. One of the main changes that are pursued with this initiative is decreasing the penalty amount to illegal merchandise to US$ 10,000, from US$50,000. With the current law, unless the amount of the illicit merchandise reaches US$ 50,000, the enforcement of rights against such trade can only be pursued at administrative stages and not as a criminal action. This increased the illicit trade in Costa Rica, since infractors can easily import illicit merchandise to Costa Rica and declare the amount of such merchandise below US$ 50,000.

Other changes pursued by this bill are that those merchandise that affect the human, animal or vegetable health will have a criminal punishment of three to ten years of prison. Furthermore, the bill contemplates penalties for the conditions that aggravate the crime, such as modification in the transportation of the merchandise so that it is hidden. This will apply for a criminal punishment from five to fifteen years of prison.

The current administration is making an effort towards fighting illicit trade and 2014 has been the year for private and public sectors to gather together in order to determine the course of action in this matter for the future. Hopefully these new penalties will aide in the enforcement against illicit trade, and we will have to keep our eyes opened for any news regarding this matter.

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