Europe – A joint investigation involving Europol and over 200 law enforcement officers has ‘dismantled’ an organised crime group responsible for trading scrap metal between Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia using ‘missing traders’ in the chain to illegally acquire ‘massive’ amounts of value added tax (VAT), according to the EU law enforcement agency handling criminal intelligence.
On January 7, Hungarian law enforcement officers, together with Czech and Slovak investigators and the support of a Europol expert, arrested 14 suspects and seized Euro 4.8 million in cash as well as luxury vehicles and real estate. If convicted, those involved could face up to 16 years’ imprisonment for being members of a criminal organisation engaged in large-scale VAT fraud.
According to latest figures from the international investigation team, VAT losses for Slovakian authorities are estimated at Euro 17.2 million, while the impact on the Czech authorities has been around Euro 2.7 million. ‘The criminal assets seized will go towards the recovery of damages in the countries involved,’ states Europol.