October 16, 2018

International action against large-scale VAT fraud

During a joint action day in seven EU Member States, an international organised crime group was tackled, involved in large-scale VAT fraud with a damage of more than EUR 20 million, related to sales of second-hand vehicles. At the request of the German authorities, the action was supported by a coordination centre set up at Eurojust, and led to the arrest of the main suspects. The operations involved more than 100 house searches, particularly in Romania and Hungary, numerous hearings of witnesses and suspects and the recognition of freezing orders up to EUR 18 million.

The German Public Prosecutor’s Office of Nuremberg, the Romanian Prosecutor’s Office of the Cluj County Court are conducting investigations into this organised crime group (OCG), which is mainly composed of Romanian nationals acting in Germany, Romania, Hungary and several other EU Member States.

The members of the OCG are suspected of having committed the offense of value-added tax (VAT) evasion from the sale of high-priced second-hand vehicles. The criminals bought used vehicles in Germany and then pretended to sell them to various companies in different EU Member States without paying VAT. Instead, the vehicles were sold to natural persons as final customers (VAT payers).

Eurojust assisted the national authorities throughout the investigations, inter alia, with the organisation of a coordination meeting at Eurojust in September 2017, which provided the framework for the exchange and sharing of information. Furthermore, a joint investigation team between Germany and Romania was successfully established. The coordination centre set up at Eurojust provided custom-made infrastructure to coordinate the simultaneous operations across Europe and to address and solve legal issues that arose in the course of the action day.

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