Prosecution is the investigative body of the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security. It has approximately 190 specially trained employees with judicial police powers and is responsible for combating serious cases of smuggling.
Aside from tax and duty fraud cases (customs duties, import VAT, taxes and duties on tobacco, alcohol, mineral oil, etc.), Prosecution also works in other areas such as species protection (CITES Convention), combating of infectious animal diseases, smuggling of medicines and cabotage.
It is active both at the border and within Switzerland. In order to optimise its operations throughout Switzerland, Prosecution has offices in Bern, Basel, Zurich, Lausanne and Lugano. It can intervene when an offence is committed, or even several years later.
In recent years, Prosecution has dealt with major cases such as the following:
- Discovery of illegal imports of several tonnes of meat or foodstuffs presenting a proven health risk;
- Discovery of illegal imports of expensive luxury goods (cars, watches, works of art, antiques, etc.);
- Discovery of illicit trafficking in protected live animals (CITES Convention);
- Discovery of large-scale cabotage.
In all of these cases, goods that posed a health hazard were confiscated and destroyed, live animals were released into the wild where possible, and taxes and duties were systematically collected.
In addition to its investigative powers, Prosecution also has the power to issue judgments. It generally issues administrative penalties that exceed the taxes and duties involved. It forwards the most serious cases to the competent courts in order for custodial sentences to be imposed.