Fifteen people have been arrested in Italy and Slovakia for the illegal trafficking of metal waste, money laundering and fake invoices and documents in a fraud case that led to estimated illegal profits of at least EUR 130 million.
The arrests were coordinated by the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice (Eurojust). ‘Sixty places were searched and computer equipment, electronic devices and documents have been seized,’ the agency reports on its website.
According to Eurojust, the suspects had allegedly been trading in waste metal since 2015. ‘They produced false certificates and invoices, pretending the waste was scrap metal, which is allowed for trade if declarations of conformity are provided. These declarations are necessary to trace the scrap metal to its origins.’
The Italian Guardia di Finanza says more than 18 000 tonnes of metal waste was illegally sold and processed in operating foundries since at least 2018. ‘This led to possible health risks and disturbed market competition for legally operating businesses. Fake certificates, declarations and invoices were provided via a string of fictitious companies in Slovakia, Hungary, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, China and Malaysia. These false invoices enabled the purchase of the metal “off the books”, pretending it had come from abroad.’
Investigations into illegality started in 2018, following a suspicious transaction between a company in Slovakia and an enterprise in Turin allegedly involving abnormal amounts of money. The anti-mafia district directorate of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Turin and Economic and Financial Police Unit subsequently unravelled the large-scale fraud.