Heller, Rubel defends individuals and corporations being investigated and/or charged with offences under the Customs Act. The Customs Act administers and enforces the collection of duties and controls the movement of goods into and out of Canada. The Customs Act is not a taxing statute, although the Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) has been provided with the authority to enforce collection of duties and taxes imposed under separate legislation, such as the Customs Tariff, Excise Tax Act and the Excise Act. The CBSA administers numerous other acts, regulations and international agreements, including the Export and Import Permits Act and the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.
Some offences under the Customs Act are criminal offences, including willfully evading payment of duties owed; making false statements orally or in writing when required to make statements pursuant to the Customs Act and its regulations; destroying records or making false records to avoid compliance with the Customs Act; and smuggling prohibited goods into Canada. Although the offences are sometimes falsely described as “regulatory” in nature, a conviction for these types of offences may result in a criminal record and have a significant impact on future employment and international travel.
Some offences and allegations may be quite simple in nature, such as falsely undervaluing personal goods when entering customs at the airport, while other investigations and charges can relate to complex multinational corporate structures.
Alleged violations of the Customs Act are investigated by CBSA. It is possible to intervene at the investigative stage, prior to any charges being laid. CBSA may be open to discussing a variety of resolution options prior to charges being laid, or the intervention could result in criminal charges being avoided altogether.