In December of 2017, one of Aspectum. clients was held accountable for the violation of the currency control legislation due to a failure to obtain the foreign currency earnings to its bank account for the goods sold to a buyer in Belarus. The foreign buyer did not pay for the goods because of the financial difficulties, and first announced its liquidation, and then began the bankruptcy procedure.
In Belarus, our team successfully supported the client’s claim, and as a result the claim was included in the register of creditors’ claims as a part of the liquidation procedures and in the subsequent bankruptcy case.
In Russia, meanwhile, the Saint-Petersburg Customs initiated 20 administrative cases against the Russian seller under Part 4 of Article 15.25 of the Administrative Code, considered our client guilty for not receiving the foreign currency earnings due to the bankruptcy of the Belorussian buyer, and imposed fines amounting to more than 3 million rubles.
We appealed to the Arbitration Court of Saint-Petersburg and the Leningrad region with the claim to recognize the fines as illegal, but in the first instance the judges agreed with the customs and refused to challenge their decision.
In the second (appellate) instance, we successfully proved that fines illegal.
The judges overruled the decision of the lower court, and agreed that the reference of the first instance court to the failure to submit the documents “indicating prompting the non-resident to pay for the goods on time” is formal, because within the established period of payment, such reminders and written prompts in commercial practice are not necessary as the performance of the contract does not depend on them. Commercial risk insurance, collateral, and a bank guarantee are not mandatory either. Therefore, this could not prove our client guilty.
Contrary to the arguments of the customs, the negligence of the seller in the performance of its public legal duties were not established.
The cassation instance and the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation agreed with our position.
Thus, unreasonable fines for the violation of the currency legislation were overruled, client’s rights were restored.