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Italy: EPPO confiscates €4 million in massive customs fraud with textiles from China

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(Luxembourg, 30 June 2023) – This week, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Bologna successfully closed an enormous customs fraud investigation with a confiscation of €4 million and a plea bargain of the main defendant. The Italian Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza) in Prato carried out the confiscation order and discovered the fraudulent trade of textiles from China.

According to the investigations, rolls of fabric were smuggled from China into the EU through an unknown entry point. Afterwards, German and Hungarian shell companies supposedly moved them within the internal market to Italy. The transport documents mentioned places of destination in Prato that were not true, so that the goods could not be traced and were in fact delivered to the real recipients, without custom fees and import VAT ever being paid.

The Guardia di Finanza previously executed the preventive seizure of 8 701 253 linear meters of fabrics, along with more than €300 000 in cash, two vans and forklifts. The seized fabrics were put up for sale during a public auction managed by the Prato Customs agency, and the proceeds of the auction were directly added to the seizure of the money. In total, the confiscation amounts to €4 million.

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (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.