On July 13th 2018, the Council of Ministers approved the preliminary draft of Amendment of the Organic Law 12/1995, of December 12th, on Counter Smuggling, proposed by the Ministry of Finance – Customs and Excise Department .
The aim of this legislative initiative is to strengthen the fight against the criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking and tobacco and drug smuggling in Spain by declaring, for the purpose of the preliminary draft, the so-called RHIBS (rigid-hulled inflatable boat) as a prohibited type. The preliminary draft specifies that the types to be considered illegal are: a) rigid-hulled inflatable boats over 8 meters in length; b) or under 8 meters in length but with power greater than 150 kW (203.94 CV); c) and any other boats that might be suspected, on the basis of reasonable indications, to be used for committing or enabling the commission of an offence of smuggling. If the preliminary draft is adopted, the bodies responsible for suppressing these criminal activities shall be allowed to confiscate those high-speed boats that “are supposedly used” for committing smuggling-related criminal acts.
Provided that a prior authorization is issued by the competent authority and the subsequent inscription into the authorized registry is carried out, maritime rescue and assistance boats, inland waterway boats and boats used for commercial, sport, research, training and recreational purpose shall be exempt from what was exposed above. With regard to the recreational boats, their possession and use will always be legal as long as the established safety, technical and sale requirements are met. Similarly, this type of boats used for national defence and alike, just as those considered auxiliary boats of any other boat that is considered to be the main one shall also be entitled for exemption.
The possession of RHIBS as well as their manufacturing, cruising, import, export, trade activity and restoration might have legal or administrative consequences, unless all the previously mentioned legal requirements are met. Administrative sanctions may be imposed if the value of the seized boat is lower than 50,000 Euros. If the value is higher than 50,000 Euros, these activities may be considered a criminal offence of smuggling, punished by prison penalties ranging from one to five years and a fine up to the six time the value of the seized properties.
The draft proposes a creation of a Special Registry of Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat Operators, which would be located at the Ministry of Finance, as well as an inspection and control mechanism which would be developed through an appropriate regulation.
Given the fact that we are facing a preliminary process of an eventual amendment of the Organic Law on Counter Smuggling, AIYON Abogados will closely follow up the subsequent legislative developments of the approved Amendment.