NEW SENTENCING GUIDELINES FOR CIGARETTE SMUGGLERS
On 15 April 2014, the Honourable Chief Justice, Sundaresh Menon laid down sentencing guidelines for cigarette smuggling. He said that the weight of the tobacco should be used as a starting point in deciding jail terms.
Under the Customs Act, a first offender who smuggles more than 2kg of tobacco products faces a fine of up to 20 times the duty or tax avoided or jail of up to three years or both.
The Honourable CJ added that the starting point for a first offender who smuggles between 2kg and 50kg of tobacco should be a sentence ranging from three to six months imprisonment. His role should also be limited to importation.
The rationale underlying the offence is the loss of revenue to the Government, the public policy of interest in discouraging consumption of harmful goods.
These are the proposed penalties:
- 2kg to 50kg – three to six months imprisonment
- 51kg to 100kg – six months to a year imprisonment
- 101kg to 200kg – one to one and half years imprisonment
- 201kg to 300kg – one an half years to two years imprisonment
- 301kg to 400kg – two to two and half years imprisonment
- More than 400kg – two and half three years imprisonment