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Italy: Eleven arrests and €25 million seized in VAT fraud scheme involving electronic goods

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(Luxembourg, 15 May 2024) – At the request of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Rome and Turin (Italy), the Italian Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza) of Rome are currently arresting eleven suspects and seizing assets worth up to €25 million, in an investigation into a VAT fraud involving the sale of electronic goods.

According to the evidence, the suspects – a group of entrepreneurs and accountants – formed a criminal organisation and employed a variety of fraudulent tactics in order to carry out the scheme. These are understood to have included the issuance of fake invoices for non-existent goods and fictitious transactions via foreign-based companies, acting as so-called missing traders – shell companies established for the sole purpose of evading the payment of VAT. It is alleged that this allowed them to sell electronic products at artificially low prices, undercutting legitimate competitors and resulting in VAT losses to the EU and national budgets exceeding €25 million.

The investigation also revealed evidence of self-money laundering – a form of money laundering in which the same person perpetrates both the primary offence and the money laundering offence. It is believed that a portion of the allegedly fraudulent proceeds was first transferred to an additional company, which in turn transferred the money to the suspects’ bank accounts abroad.

The eleven suspects will be placed under house arrest and five of the eleven face twelve-month bans from holding managerial positions in companies and other entities. 

All persons concerned are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in the competent Italian courts of law.

The EPPO is the independent public prosecution office of the European Union. It is responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment crimes against the financial interests of the EU.