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Malta: Eight arrested in investigation into customs fraud and corruption of public officials

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(Luxembourg, 19 July 2023) – In an investigation into customs fraud and corruption led by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Valletta (Malta), eight suspects were arrested on Monday, including five public officials, during house searches carried out at several locations.

At issue is a suspected fraudulent scheme to evade the payment of customs taxes and duties on the importation of clothing and other goods from China, by under-declaring their value and weight. It is alleged that this was done with the complicity of customs officials, who are believed to have been offered money to refrain from correctly carrying out their duties. Three of the suspects, representing two companies, are under investigation for orchestrating the scheme.

As part of the probe, the Malta Police Force (Financial Crimes Investigations Department) carried out searches at several locations around Malta, including customs offices, residences of the suspects and registered addresses of the companies under investigation.

During the searches, three high-value vehicles and a considerable amount of cash (around €180 000) were seized. Measures have also been taken to block all funds and immoveable property belonging to the concerned suspects.

The crimes under investigation include customs fraud, corruption of public officials and money laundering. The damage to the EU budget is believed to run to millions of euro.

The EPPO counted on the support of the Malta Police Force, Malta’s Customs Enforcement Section and Malta’s Asset Recovery Bureau.

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

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) is the independent public prosecution office of the European Union. Itis responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment crimes against the financial interests of the EU.