(PRESS RELEASE by Finnish Customs, 6.4.2022)
The shipments suspected to be subject to EU sanctions and detained by Finnish Customs at Vaalimaa over the weekend contained works of art. The shipments were being transported from elsewhere in Europe and from Japan to Russia via Finland.
The European Union has imposed extensive sanctions against Russia and Belarus due to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. As the implementing authority, Finnish Customs’ tasks include enforcing the sanctions on goods agreed at EU level.
On 1–2 April 2022, Finnish Customs detained three shipments bound for Russia at Vaalimaa border crossing point. The shipments contained paintings and sculptures.
The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs has confirmed that the EU list of sanctions contains a paragraph on works of art.
Finnish Customs has started a preliminary investigation into the case that occurred in Vaalimaa. The investigation is ongoing both in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and at Customs. Investigation measures will be carried out as soon as possible. The exact time when the investigation measures will be complete is not yet known.
The enforcement of sanctions must be effective.
Finnish Customs informed the media about the discovery of the art shipments, the enforcement of sanctions and the progress of the preliminary investigation at a press briefing held today on 6 April 2022.
“It is important that the enforcement of sanctions works effectively. The enforcement of sanctions is part of our normal operations and we always direct our controls based on risks. The shipments that have now come under criminal investigation were detected as part of our customary enforcement work,” says Sami Rakshit, Director of Finnish Customs’ Enforcement Department.
The works of art were being transported from Italy and Japan to Russia via Finland. They had been displayed at exhibitions. The works of art are being stored with overall consideration for their value, characteristics and safety.
The preliminary investigation will continue in the form of information gathering, international cooperation and requests for mutual assistance. Finnish Customs aims to complete the investigation as soon as possible. Customs will continue consulting with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry will examine the matter with the European Commission.