Some questionable customs?
9 February 2011
Last month the media reported how senior Turkish customs officers were being prosecuted for corrupt use of powers. This week Romania’s customs chief and a number of his staff, have been charged with corruption. The chief apparently accepting a EUR 400 000 bribe in exchange for appointing a senior official, to a position giving him the opportunity to further self interest.
In both countries, a widespread problem is that officials allegedly take bribes to facilitate illicit cigarette shipments. The rate in Romania is a euro for a packet of 200 cigarettes. Officials are said to make up to 2,700 euros per shift. In Bulgaria there is a lack of confidence that Customs have sufficient integrity to improve a situation where the country has the third highest rate of tobacco smuggling in Europe – after Latvia and Lithuania. Bulgaria and Romania are being blocked from joining the Schengen passport-free travel zone, until France and Germany have more confidence in the control of corruption and organised crime.
The 2010 UMR Mood of the Nation survey indicated that 71% of New Zealanders believe our Customs Service does an “excellent or good” job. NZ Fire Service, NZ Police and the Department of Conservation rated better.