Luxury cars smuggled into Russia from Finland

The new cold war

Published 4 October 2023
- By Editorial Staff

Illegal smuggling of cars is occurring through Finnish customs into Russia, according to a new investigation by Finnish Yle. The state channel has placed transmitters on car transports heading into Russia and observed that they have remained in the country.

Swedish Yle has received tips that new cars are being loaded onto cargo ships in Germany, shipped to Finland, and then smuggled into Russia, which violates the EU sanctions imposed last year. With the help of transmitters attached to the car transports crossing the border, they have been able to track the cars’ journey through Russia.

It is still legal to transport cars through Russia, where they may often be headed to Central Asia, but it is illegal for the cars to remain in the country. Finnish customs often do not inspect all transports.

– We cannot inspect every load because traffic and trade would come to a halt, Sami Rakshit, head of the Customs Surveillance Department, told Yle.

Transmitters were placed on a car transport driving from Vaalimaa in two different cars, a dark blue BMW X3 and a white Lexus RX350. Their journey could then be tracked through an app. The dark blue car eventually ended up in the Siberian city of Tomsk, where it also remained, leading to assumptions that it was sold and is being used by its new owner. The white car was ultimately found at a car dealership, also in Tomsk, where it was reportedly sold for close to 100,000 euros.

The white Lexus was listed on a Russian car website and sold through an export company in Canada. However, the company denies doing business with Russia because it is “under sanctions”, but the car dealer in Tomsk confirms that the car came from there.

– There were no problems importing the white Lexus. At least four companies were involved in the transport, the Russian car company DeLux-Auto Logistic told Yle.

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