International gold laundering ring: 10 arrests
Today, from a coordination centre at Eurojust, an international action against a gold laundering ring took place, led by the Italian Guardia di Finanza police and the State Prosecutor’s Office of Turin, with the support of Hungarian and Slovenian authorities, and with coordination by Eurojust. The group members are accused of being part of a criminal organisation involved in gold laundering in Italy, Hungary and Slovenia.
Gold items were first stolen in Italy, melted down by an Italian foundry, and transformed into bars. The bars were then placed on the official gold market by a Hungarian company that issued fictitious sales invoices to a second Italian enterprise. The fictitious invoices, estimated at approximately EUR 300 000 weekly, were paid by legitimate companies via international bank transfer, with the cash then withdrawn in Hungary and returned to Turin to pay the thieves. Concealed cash was transported across national borders.
During the period under investigation, the criminal organisation is estimated to have laundered close to 750 kg of pure gold, valued at approximately EUR 25 million.
At the conclusion of the police operation, 10 individuals were arrested, while only one target remains at large. At the same time, 60 house and company searches were carried out in Italy, Hungary and Slovenia. The equivalent of EUR 9 million was seized, including 20 kg of gold, EUR 200 000 in cash on one of the arrested individuals and high-value cars. Furthermore, important evidentiary items were found and seized, including those contained in a safe and in the accountancy books of the involved companies in the various countries.
This transnational investigation succeeded thanks to the efforts of the police and judicial authorities of Italy, Hungary and Slovenia. Eurojust, which followed the case since the beginning of 2016, facilitated the exchange of information and execution of mutual legal assistance requests and also hosted a coordination meeting two weeks ago to prepare yesterday’s action day and guarantee the simultaneous execution of all measures.
The National Member for Italy, Filippo Spiezia, after the conclusion of the coordination centre, said: “This case is unique. In the framework of one investigation, the crimes from which the proceeds were derived, the nature and extent of the money laundering activities, and the investment of proceeds of crime were uncovered at the same time as a result of a complex cross-border investigation.”
“This success has been made possible thanks to Eurojust, which has dealt with all the judicial aspects within its competence since the beginning of the case. In this way, Eurojust has also played a proactive role in providing information to home authorities in real time to progress the case.”