09:30 17.03.2017

Odesa court impounds vessel with over UAH 18 mln worth of goods after Crimea visit

The captain of the Sky Moon vessel (Tanzanian flag) has been found guilty of moving (from Crimea) over 3,000 of commercial soda outside the Ukrainian customs control area, the Malynovsky District Court in Odesa ruled.

During the hearing of the relevant administrative protocol on violation of the customs rules, the court ordered confiscation in favor of the state of the contraband matter, namely: the cargo, nearly UAH 18.5 million worth of soda, and the vessel itself as a transport vehicle that was used to commit the law violation, a spokesperson for the military prosecutor's office in Ukraine's Southern Region said on Thursday. The vessel's worth was not disclosed.

This is the largest contraband haul in Ukraine's history, the spokesperson said.

"For the first time in the history of Ukraine a court decided to confiscate the maritime vessel as well," the spokesperson said.

Military prosecutors are also going to bring criminal charges against the captain of the vessel, a co-founder of the company that owns the cargo (a Moldovan citizen) and possibly the ship owner's representative (a Romanian).

Furthermore, based on results of the inquiry, military prosecutors will formally notify Czech authorities about violation by a Czech-registered company of the European ban on trade with Crimea.

The inquiry found that the Sky Moon ship captain, having conspired with the ship owner's representative and the senders and recipients of the goods, had the ship visit the closed Crimean ports of Kerch, Feodosia and Sevastopol eight times throughout 2016.

In violation of international law and the Ukrainian laws, and being aware of the sanctions against Crimea, the captain moved scrap metal, sodium carbonate and commercial soda, and linseeds to Turkey and Moldova.

These facts led to a criminal inquiry on charges of "violation of the rules for traveling to and from the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territory" and "forgery by an official."

In December 2016 the ship owner's representative tried to bribe a military prosecutor to settle the criminal case issue.

It was reported that on November 30, 2016 Ukrainian border guards detained the Sky Moon cargo vessel with nine people on board, including the captain and eight crew members. The vessel was carrying over 3,000 tonnes of sodium carbonate at the time.

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