POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - JUSTICE

Frauds

EU prosecutors seize €23m in tax evasion crackdown



The EU’s new organisation acts with local law enforcements to investigate cases of suspected financial crimes.  Photo: Shutterstock

The EU’s new organisation acts with local law enforcements to investigate cases of suspected financial crimes.  Photo: Shutterstock

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) has seized over €23m over the past two days with investigations in Czechia, Romania, Slovakia and Italy leading to uncovering tax frauds and a misuse of EU funds.  

The EU organisation, which was launched in June 2021 and has its headquarters in Luxembourg, is “responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment crimes against the financial interests of the EU.” The EPPO investigates crimes surpassing the €10m mark, such as tax fraud, money laundering and corruption.

In Czechia, Romania and Slovakia, the European body coordinated an operation with local authorities to investigate a suspicion of organised crime and tax evasion. The searches led to the arrest of 4 people and a seizure of a total of €23m. The money was generated through a “VAT carousel”, where platinum coins are circulated through the same companies repeatedly. The latter would then not pay their taxes, allowing a broker company--based, in this case, in Germany--to claim an undue tax credit.

Though the EPPO is based in Luxembourg, the suspects will be judged in Germany as the operation was mainly executed by German and Czech tax police bodies.  

Nothing to ‘sea’ in Italy

The EPPO was also busy in Italy this week. Collaborating with the Guardia di Finanza--the Italian Finance Police--the organisation seized €900,000 in assets.

This sum had originally been granted by the EU to six entrepreneurs vowing to bring more tourism to the Calabria region. As a part of their project, the suspects had bought large catamarans and sailing boats, which never actually made it to Calabria. The boats instead found their way to the much more profitable island of Sicily.

The investigations on misuse of EU funds are now ongoing.