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May 3, 2011

Criminal Liability and the Thai Customs Act

White-Collar Crime & Regulatory Enforcement 2009, Digital Guide, Executive View Media Limited

Thailand is a country in which violation of customs laws can create criminal liability. However, such criminal liability may not necessarily be easy to assign. One reason is that Thailand’s 83 year-old customs law, the Customs Act B.E. 2469 (1926), contains several ambiguities. These ambiguities have provided a significant challenge for Thai authorities trying to enforce this criminal law. Nevertheless, the Thai government’s efforts to tackle “customs evasion” and “customs avoidance” have become more high profile in recent months. Pursuant to an August 2009 press release from the Thai Customs Department, customs revenues in July 2009 are thus far the highest of the year, despite the current global economic downturn. The press release also states that customs officers have been instructed to improve “efficiency” in customs collections. This raises public concern as to whether such stringent law enforcement is justified. The problem, however, lies not in enforcement of the law per se, but in the law itself. If change is desired, such change should come first with revisions to the Act.