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UK-Portugal operation targets foreign cars and tax offences

UK-Portugal operation targets foreign cars and tax offences

London : The operation was staged by GNR police’s fiscal and customs unit (UAF) and the Coast Control Unit, in cooperation with the UK’s Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
The purpose of the three-day operation, which was carried out between 5 and 7 December, was to detect tax and customs offences.
A statement from the GNR explained “Operation Guardian follows on from the collaboration and cooperation between the UAF and HMRC, in which it was identified that during the periods leading up to major festivities, as in the case of this holiday season, there is a greater volume of illegal transactions between Portugal and the United Kingdom of products subject to VAT and excise duties, such as alcoholic beverages and, in particular, tobacco”.
Around 1,000 foreign citizens were warned of the perils of trying to evade VAT taxes through the distribution of leaflets, while inspection checkpoints were set up along the border with Spain as well as on the road to Faro airport, with restaurants, bars and boats also being targeted.
Inspections were carried out on 412 vehicles, 33 establishments and several boats, resulting in the detection of 42 offences. Action was taken against eight establishments for a lack of tax stamps on alcoholic beverages; eight irregularities were detected in the issuance of the required documents to accompany goods (invoices and transport guides), as well as five cases of fraudulent introduction of petroleum products.
Twelve vehicles with foreign registration plates were also seized after they had exceeded the legally-stipulated time limits for their stay in national territory.
Around 100 officers, 40 vehicles and two coastal patrol vessels were involved in the action.
Late last year, figures revealed that the number of traffic fines issued to the owners of foreign-registered vehicles had quadrupled in the space of just three years.
Data from the National Road Safety Agency (ANSR) show that the number of fines handed to foreigners visiting the country in their cars rose from little over 7,000 in 2014 to 30,458 in 2016.
Most of these fines were for minor infringements, the ANSR said, adding that around 90 percent of all fines handed to foreign motorists are paid, with the threat of temporarily losing their documents serving as incentive enough for foreign drivers to settle their dues with Portuguese traffic police.