EduBourseActualitésJoint Customs Operation “FAKE”: Questions & Answers

Joint Customs Operation “FAKE”: Questions & Answers

Which was the strategic objective of “FAKE”?

Promoting and improving the practical operational cooperation and exchange of information between the customs administrations of the Member States
Encouraging Member States to improve local and regional cooperation.
Improving and developing this type of operation by concentrating on the consignments of counterfeit goods.
Providing a better insight into the air and maritime smuggling routes to and within the EU.
Which was the operational goal of the operation?

Intercepting and retaining the consignments of counterfeit goods
Improving the operational cooperation in the field by developing risk analysis and information exchange methods.
Improving the knowledge of this illicit trade
Highlighting the (new) routes followed and identifying the main maritime routes followed by the illicit trade of the products in question.
Identifying and possibly dismantling the international fraud organisations involved in the illicit traffic in question.
Which categories/items of goods were seized?

The goods detained are concentrated in the following categories:

Category Items
Textiles Caps, hats, jackets, shawls, sweats, socks, scarves, t-shirts, jeans, blouses, ties, trousers, towels, neck straps, wristbands, jumpers, polo’s, blazers, eye-shades
Footwear Sports shoes, sandals, shoes
Bags Handbags, wallets, evening bags, rug bags, housing mobile phones, camera cases, computer cases,
Electronic mobile phones, rechargeable batteries, MP3 players, computer boards, CD walkmans, Digital cameras (DVC), DVD, data cables, game boys, games consoles, deck card, light bulbs, batteries, hair dryers, electric engines, radio controlled cars
Medicines Viagra, Stanazolol, Satibo, Koryo Insam (herbal)
Tobacco Cigarettes
Miscellaneous Sunglasses, belts, ink cartridges, metal buckles, watches, toys, golf-clubs, razorblades, honey, nail cutters, toothbrushes, gadgets, locks

When did operation FAKE take place?

The operation FAKE ran from the 17-27 May 2005. A post-operational phase was organized from 28 May to 30 June 2005 with a view to performing physical checks and an internal search of containers selected during the operational phase. The operation was closed with the debriefing meeting, which was held, with the support of the Agenzia Delle Dogane, on 7 and 8 November 2005 in Rome. The holders of the intellectual property rights were subsequently informed of the results.

How many people participated in operation FAKE?

Approximately 250 customs officers in the 25 EU Member States were appointed to collect information and to carry out the physical controls and the scanner checks. At the Brussels operation centre, eleven liaison officers from the national customs authorities acted as an information hub, supported by one coordinator from OLAF for the administrative management of the operation (preparation of the business plan, operational plan, etc) and for the maritime aspect of the operation. One official from DG TAXUD acted as coordinator of the air operations and ensured the contact with the intellectual property right holders.

What was the role of the European Commission and OLAF?
The operation was organised and coordinated at the new Permanent Technical Infrastructure supporting Joint Customs Operations (POCU) established in the OLAF premises in Brussels. As “co-ordinator”, OLAF assumed responsibility for the relevant business plan based on a threat assessment with a targeted port of departure, routes and entry-points into the EU, as well as transhipment routes and the risk indicators employing additional information available on container shipping lines, consignees, consignors. The Commission’s Directorate General for Taxation and the Customs Union and (DG TAXUD) was also represented in the operational headquarters and assured the contact with the rights holders.

Has the new permanent Infrastructure at OLAF been used for further operations?

Operation FAKE was the first operation run in the permanent technical infrastructure that has been set up within the OLAF premises in Brussels. After FAKE, two further operations have been co-ordinated from this operation centre so far. This new facility falls completely within the service platform concept promoted by the Commission for ensuring the structuring and the use of anti-fraud information flows of an operational and strategic nature necessary for improving the overall Community perspective on strengthening cooperation. Member States’ services can “book” the operations centre for joint actions.

Which are the costs and benefits of the operation?

The creation and the setting up of the permanent technical infrastructure at the OLAF premises cost 50.000 €. In the past the costs for setting up a temporary infrastructure for an operation organized in a Member State amounted to 60.000 € per operation.
The total cost for a single operation organized in a Member State amounts to approximately 150.000 to 200.000€. The operation FAKE cost less than 40.000€.
The cost/benefit ratio is also clear: One single container of counterfeit cigarettes represents a significant loss for public budgets: 1.300.000 € in customs duties, VAT and excises. Three deep sea containers of counterfeit cigarettes were seized during the operation FAKE.
Which is the legal basis for customs operations like FAKE?

The Commission (OLAF) organized the air and maritime surveillance operation “FAKE” on counterfeit goods on basis of the provisions in art.18, §3, of the Council Regulation (EC) 515/97([1]). Indeed, the Commission (OLAF) is entitled to invite the Member States to carry out the special watch of goods, means of transport, persons, companies and warehouses as foreseen in art.7 of Regulation 515/97.

Since 1st October 1999, DG OLAF (ex UCLAF) is responsible for the enforcement aspects (the investigation and the coordination of the operational activities with the Member States) in customs matters, including those related to the fight against counterfeiting goods at the EU’s external borders. DG TAXUD continues to be responsible for legislation relating to the control of counterfeit goods at the external borders of the EU([2]).
All information and audiovisual material on the OLAF website:


([1]) The Council Regulation (EC) 515/97 of 13 March 1997 related to Mutual Assistance between the administrative authorities of the Members States and the cooperation between them and the Commission in order to ensure the good application of the Customs and Agricultural Regulations

([2]) The Council Regulation (EC) No 1383/2003 of 22 July 2003 concerning customs action against goods suspected of infringing certain intellectual property rights and the measures to be taken against goods found to have infringed such rights presents the various ways of intervention for Customs on behalf of right-holders when goods are suspected of infringement on some intellectual property rights

Pierre Perrin-Monlouis
Pierre Perrin-Monlouis
Fondateur de Rente et Patrimoine (cabinet de gestion de patrimoine), Pierre Perrin-Monlouis est un analyste et trader pour compte propre. Il vous fait profiter de son expérience en trading grâce à ses analyses financières et décrypte pour vous les actualités des marchés. Son approche globale des marchés combine à la fois l'analyse technique et l'analyse fondamentale sur l'ensemble des marchés : crypto, forex, actions et matières premières.