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The Warsaw Voice » Law » April 26, 2012
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Law in brief
April 26, 2012   
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Less Smuggled Booze and Smokes
The amount of alcohol and cigarettes smuggled into Poland and sold illegally has dropped in recent years, according to a report by the Finance Ministry, which has recently summed up the results of crackdowns by the Customs Service from 2009 to 2011. As part of its efforts to fight smuggling and illegal trade in tobacco products, the Customs Service conducted strict inspections in marketplaces and tightened checks at the country’s eastern border by employing more customs officers.

Poland ranks among the EU countries with the largest amounts of illegal tobacco products uncovered and seized. In 2010, Polish customs officers seized over 563 million smuggled cigarettes versus 606 million a year earlier. One of the reasons behind the drop is that illegal products are now entering Western Europe mainly via Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. In 2012-2015, the Polish Customs Service wants to maintain the high level of border controls on the eastern border, especially with Belarus, and inspections in marketplaces, and to work closer with police officers, Border Guards and the Internal Security Agency (ABW) in uncovering illegal cigarette production.

The Customs Service has also been conducting strict checks on alcoholic beverages, checking excise labels in warehouses and restaurants. In 2010, customs officers uncovered 140 bottles with counterfeit excise labels versus 500 in 2009 and more than 3,000 in 2008. But the number of illegal bottling plants uncovered grew each year: 22 in 2008, 32 in 2009, and 30 in 2010.

In 2011, the Customs Service conducted over 102,000 proceedings concerning cigarette smuggling and over 2,000 concerning alcohol smuggling. These offenses carry a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine.

New Rules on Social Worker Interviews
The Ministry of Labor and Social Policy has adopted a draft regulation to relax requirements for interviews conducted by social workers. Under the draft, social workers employed by hospitals, nursing homes and similar establishments would be able to conduct such interviews to check on the family situation of people staying in these institutions.

Existing rules have to be amended because of a deregulation law that came into force on July 1, 2011.

Penalties for Facilitating Terrorist Crimes
New amendments to the penal and penal procedure codes introduce severe penalties of up to five years in prison for disseminating or publicly presenting content that may facilitate terrorist crimes. This involves not only content intended for a specific group of people or an individual, but also information or instructions posted on the internet and thus available to everyone.

Automotive Executive Acquitted
A Warsaw court March 29 acquitted Krystian Poloczek, chairman of the supervisory board of Iberia Motor Company (IMC), of charges brought against him by prosecutors after a complaint made by a former employee.

IMC is the general importer of Seat cars to Poland and Poloczek was accused of attempting to illegally withdraw funds from the company of which he was the sole owner at the time. The verdict comes after a prolonged legal case. The court found that Poloczek had not broken the law in terms of the way he conducted marketing operations at IMC from 2001 to 2003.

Poland Criticized Over Recycling of Old Cars
The European Commission has threatened to take Poland to the EU Court of Justice for dragging its feet on changing national regulations on the recycling of old cars.

The issue involves a recycling tax levied on imported cars and the absence of a system for collecting vehicles intended for recycling free of charge.

At present, those who bring used cars from other countries into Poland are required to pay a recycling tax of zl.500 to the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management. The European Commission says the amount is arbitrary and has nothing to do with the real cost of car recycling. Apart from abolishing the recycling tax, Poland is required to develop a system for collecting old cars from those who want to get rid of them. Under an EU directive, the organization and financing of car scrapping is the obligation of car producers and large car importers.

Brussels warned Poland for the first time over the regulations at the end of 2009, but Poland has failed to change them. Now the country has two months to comply or will face the Court of Justice. The Environment Ministry says amendments to the car recycling regulations have already been drafted.
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