Operation planned along with law enforcement agencies in 14 EU states resulted in unveiling the biggest cross-border VAT fraud scheme to date in the bloc
An investigation by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) with support from Europol has revealed the biggest cross-border VAT fraud scheme to date in the EU, worth an estimated EUR 2.2 billion.
A press release issued by Europol on Tuesday, December 13 said, “On 29 November, the EPPO, in cooperation with law enforcement agencies in 14 EU Member States and with the support of Europol, carried out simultaneous investigative measures in relation to a complex VAT fraud scheme based on the sale of popular electronic goods”.
The operation was conducted also in cooperation with law enforcement agencies in 14 EU member states. Searches were conducted in Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain.
The report said, 24 suspects have been arrested after 314 houses were raided in connection with this case. The arrests were made in Portugal, Italy, and France. Authorities have also made seizures worth €67 million. This includes €2.5 million in cash, 529 bank accounts, 81 real estate properties, 31 luxury cars, 1 Kalashnikov, as well as several other valuable commodities worth millions.
The investigations first started in April 2021, after the Portuguese Tax Authority in Coimbra started looking into a company selling mobile phones, tablets, earphones, and other electronic devices, on suspicion of VAT fraud.
The case was then passed on to the EPPO in June 2021 which revealed a complex VAT fraud scheme based on the sale of popular electronic goods. In December 2021, Europol also joined the investigations upon the request of the European Delegated Prosecutor for Portugal.
Since then, the EPPO, Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC) and national law enforcement authorities have established connections between the suspected company in Portugal. The report said close to 9 000 other legal entities, and more than 600 persons linked with this case were located in over 30 countries.
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