European Law Enforcement Agencies Make Arrests

Criminal group accused of illegally acquiring value added taxes through phantom scrap metal trades.

January 16, 2013
Recycling Today Staff
Legislation & Regulations

In a joint investigation team involving Europol (European Police Office) and more than 200 law enforcement officers, an organized crime group allegedly responsible for massive VAT (value added tax) fraud in several EU countries has been targeted in an investigation.

On Jan. 7, 2013, Hungarian law enforcement officers, together with Czech and Slovak investigators and supported by an agent from Europol, based in The Hague, Netherlands, arrested 14 suspects and seized €4.8 million ($6.4 million) in cash, as well as luxury motor vehicles and real estate.

The organized criminal group had allegedly been trading scrap metal between Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, using “missing traders” in the chain to illegally accrue considerable amounts of VAT funds from several EU member states’ authorities.

According to figures supplied by investigating officers in this international effort, the estimated VAT losses for Slovakian authorities are around €17.2 million ($22.8 million, while Czech authorities have estimated losses of around €2.7 million ($3.6 million).

The criminal assets seized will reportedly go toward the recovery of damages in the countries involved.