To support the raid, Europol sent its experts to the Netherlands and Spain
Europol and Eurojust have supported an operation that saw 22 suspects arrested for engaging in a VAT fraud scheme. The 22 were part of an organized crime group that operated in 5 countries. The gang’s operations have caused the Spanish state budget tax losses of over €26.5 million.
The operation began with the search of 24 places in several coordinated raids. The searches carried out in Belgium (1), the Netherlands (5) and Spain (18), proved to be successful. Among the items seized include 16 luxury vehicles, 13 properties with an approximate value of €1.3 million and bank accounts belonging to the suspects in 33 different financial institutions.
The organized gang used complex infrastructure to evade tax in various countries. One of the strategies used involved the use of front companies in Slovakia, Belgium, Spain, Romania and the Netherlands to pretend they traded goods with the companies. However, no goods were delivered to companies in other territories.
The VAT payment was hence avoided since the goods were not traded across the EU. This scheme led to the defrauding of Spanish tax authorities. Also, the gang forged trading documents in the companies they had set up.
A request from the Spanish authorities saw Eurojust set up a coordination meeting and centre in a few days. Eurojust also oversaw the coordination of transmission requests to issue accounts freezing certificates and European Investigation Orders (EIOs). Europol played a vital role in bringing the investigators from the 5 countries together and facilitating discussions on the way forward as well as the procedural guidelines. Specialists from the Economic Crime Centre (EFECC) and Europol’s European Financial supported the exchange of vital information all through to the day of the raid.
We’ve reported that Europol busted a large-scale online investment fraud network.