By Cosmin Mocanu (Partner)
Lately, several controls performed throughout the country by the local Excise and Customs Operations Divisions of the Ministry of Finance (“Divisions”) have resulted in fines not at all negligible for tobacco products producers, importers and distributors, whether we are talking about wholesalers (which were often the very producers or importers of tobacco products, owners of cigarette brands) or retailers1.
One of the main reasons for applying these sanctions (fines) by the Divisions was the so-called violation of the maximum sale price declared for cigarette trade by the producers/ importers or by their distributors.
Even if, in most of the cases, the judicial courts censored these not-at-all-modest pecuniary sanctions, by annulling them for being applied in breach of (or in abusive exercise of) excise duty regulations, this legal issue raises a series of discussions and we believe that understanding it is very important for all players in this field.
The main reason for applying some wrong sanctions by the control bodies, and for censoring these sanctions by the courts also, was the wrong understanding and application of the legal provisions governing the excise duty for tobacco products (more specifically, for cigarettes) as well as of the notion “maximum sale price” related to cigarettes, by reference to the activity of cigarettes producers/importers/distributors.
1. This article was first published in Consulting Review Magazine (September 2009 issue)
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