Lena Belozerova

Associate Director, Foreign Trade, Customs and Exchange Regulation

Lena’s extensive expertise in the sphere of customs and administrative law and practical knowledge of foreign exchange matters enable her to maintain an open and effective dialogue with representatives of both the business community and customs authorities of the Russian Federation and of other countries.

Major multinational and domestic companies contact Lena for assistance on various matters pertaining to foreign trade, import into and export from Russia.

She has a comprehensive knowledge of the legislation regulating customs value, including internationally. Lena has excellent mastery of the methods for confirming the customs value of goods imported in related party transactions and her expertise on inclusion of royalties in the customs value of goods has already helped her numerous clients to justify the customs value of their goods correctly. She is convinced that importers that have concluded licence or other similar agreements are not automatically required to include royalties into the customs value of relevant goods or change the previously declared customs value, unless their importation triggers payment of royalties. DDs on transactions and analyses of contracts have resulted in the declared customs value finally being approved by the customs authorities.

Lena has considerable experience and a comprehensive knowledge of proving country of origin of goods, which is particularly important for obtaining customs benefits upon carriage of goods from CIS countries, developing and less developed countries and within the EEU.

Lena is a practising lawyer and, if customs decisions depart from legislative provisions and administrative appeals to the customs against such decisions prove fruitless, she acts for her clients in court, be they individuals or corporates, to achieve the most reasonable solution.

With Lena’s assistance, her clients have succeeded in obtaining lawful decisions on the customs value or classification of goods and recovered customs payments paid or collected in excess. If the customs authorities fail to act or infringe on the rights of our clients, Lena will succeed in obtaining a lawful decision.

Assisted by Lena, her clients successfully challenge unlawful resolutions of the customs and foreign exchange controlling authorities on holding their companies administratively liable.

Acting for right-owners, Lena uses her knowledge and experience to protect intellectual property and the Russian market against counterfeit products.

Lena Belozerova was selected by peers as one of the best lawyers in Russia in the fields of Customs and Excise Law, Trade Law, according to the Best Lawyers in Russia 2009-2020 Editions.

Who’s Who Legal 2016-2019 highly recommends Lena Belozerova as one of the leading lawyers in Russia in Trade & Customs.

Some recent projects Lena Belozerova has led and managed include:

  • Acted for SOT CJSC in a dispute with the Customs over tariff classification of process equipment for manufacturing pipeline bends.

  • Advised LG Elelctronics Rus on EEU tariff binding in connection with Russia’s participation in the WTO. Our recommendations helped the client recover significant overpaid customs fees from the government.

  • Acted for a major international film production company in negotiations with the customs authorities over confirmation of the customs value of goods incorporating intellectual property. Represented the company’s interests in state arbitration courts challenging illegal customs authority decisions and appealing against unlawful resolutions imposing administrative liability.

  • Acted for a major global consumer goods company in a dispute with the customs authorities over goods classification. Some of the classification decisions were cancelled by the customs themselves (the authority agreed it had made an error in issuing a BTI) and some were recognised by the court as illegal and departing from the legislation.

  • Provided legal support for a project to contest classification decisions of the customs authorities. In one of the litigations, incorrect classification of goods resulted in a 15% increase in the import customs rate and the client’s business in Russia faced the prospect of liquidation as being uncompetitive because of the high price of its goods. The arbitration court agreed that the customs authorities had classified the goods incorrectly, disregarded expert opinions and the European experience of classifying such goods.

  • Acted for a major trading company in challenging illegal omissions on the part of the customs authorities pertaining to repayment of overpaid paid customs dues. Owing to customs value being determined incorrectly upon importation of goods and absence of confirming documents, the customs value was considerably overstated, thus pushing up the customs payments due. The customs authority took a formal approach to the matter and refused to repay the overpaid customs payments. The arbitration court upheld the claimant’s position and recognised the refusal as invalid. This was not the only instance of such a dispute and extensive experience has been accumulated of recovering customs charges paid/collected in excess.

  • Acted for a major Russian gas company in litigation with the customs authorities over determination of customs value during sale of goods to an affiliated entity at below cost price for subsequent export. All the court rulings were passed in favour of the client and overpaid customs dues and the legal costs were refunded to the company.

  • Acted for a major European food producer in customs and court appeals against customs authority actions to enforce customs payments.

  • Advised a leading global food company on customs and exchange matters, including determining customs value, gaining benefits on customs payments and classifying goods. Obtained a WCO goods classification opinion for the Company.

  • Successfully handled a litigation by the Russian arm of a major international oil services company against customs authority decisions classifying goods and upwardly assessing customs payments; the court ruling on this case constituted a welcome precedent for many foreign trading companies importing similar goods.

Lena’s clients include many international companies including Reckitt Benckiser, Kimberly-Clark, Mars and Ecolab.

Lena keeps abreast of new legal developments, builds up her knowledge and improves her expertise with respect to the EEU legislation and anti-dumping laws and participates actively in conferences and seminars on foreign trade. She also delivers personal workshops as a customs and foreign exchange expert.