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Measures of the State Tax Administration of Ukraine (STAU) on removal of gambling equipment are disputable – attorney’s view

Interfax-Ukraine, Kiev, 16 July

Provided that the law on prohibition of gambling industry has no description of clear mechanism controlling its observance, it allows us to dispute the actions of the tax service of Ukraine on removal of gambling machines and militia raids with inspection of gambling houses, in accordance with the effective legislation.
Such an opinion was expressed to the agency “Interfax-Ukraine” by Lesya Kovtun, an attorney of Volkov Koziakov and Partners Law Firm.
As reported, the tax service of Ukraine has withdrawn 2 300 gambling machines within the period of June-July 2009.
“With respect to removal of gambling equipment, I would like to remind of the constitutional principle of inviolability of property right that implies untouchability of its objects, except for the cases of its removal on the basis of court decision made according to the established juridical procedure”, she stated.
The expert explained that the Law of Ukraine “On the state tax service” entitles the tax militia with the right to solely keep track of compliance with the tax legislation, which has nothing to do with prohibition of gambling industry. At the same time, the internal affairs bodies under the Law “On militia” are entitled to freely access any premises of enterprises solely to prevent illegal actions.
Considering the above mentioned, removal of gambling equipment can be carried out only on the basis of prescribed court decision under the claim of tax service for a party of gambling industry with imposition of sanctions and property confiscation. Such actions are unlawful on the stage of an ordinary inspection. It is still expected that the tax service will follow the rules of economic procedure for collection of proofs justifying these claims, as specified in the law on prohibition of gambling industry, commented Lesya Kovtun.
She assumes that with respect to that, some clarifications can be provided by STAU regarding the measures controlling observance of this law.
Otherwise, the STAU raids can be followed by a number of claims for compensation of losses resulting from the illegal activities of the state officials, concluded L. Kovtun.
As reported, the tax authorities of Ukraine recorded 155 facts of unlawful gambling activities in June-July 2009, having withdrawn 2 300 gambling machines and other equipment amounting to UAH 30.2 mln.
It was previously informed by the STAU press-service that the tax officials had commenced the large-scale operation with regard to gambling industry starting from the effective date of the law on its prohibition: about 500 mobile teams had been formed around Ukraine to carry out the operation during the daytime and at night, with involvement of 1.500 employees of tax militia.
It was also noted by the press-service that after the law on gambling industry prohibition has been put into effect 25 records of crimes were submitted to the internal affairs authorities for commencement of criminal cases under the article on engagement in prohibited types of economic activity.  
The law on prohibition of gambling industry in Ukraine came into effect on 25 June and in case of its violation implies paying penalties in the amount of 8 thousand minimal salaries with confiscation of gambling equipment, and the revenues collected from gambling are subject to transfer into state budget.
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