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Italy: EPPO seizes €2 million in investigation into textiles smuggled from China

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(Luxembourg, 19 July 2023) – An investigation into smuggling and VAT evasion, conducted by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Bologna (Italy), has led to a freezing order of €2 million, and of 3 555 096 metres of textiles smuggled from China. The estimated value of the seized fabric is €4.5 million.

The judicial order was executed by the Italian Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza) of Prato, against a textile trading company based in that city.

According to the investigation, the Italian company used false purchase invoices, ostensibly issued by companies located in Hungary, Germany and France, to conceal that the fabrics were actually imported directly from China. Analysis of documents and checks on the transport of the fabrics, carried out by the Guardia di Finanza, indicate that the company purchased the textiles directly from China – thus avoiding the payment of import VAT and customs duties, totalling an estimated €2 011 035.

The investigation also made it possible to identify the suspected manager of the operation, who presented himself as an employee of the Italian company. The suspect is under investigation for the crimes of smuggling and the use of false invoices.

The crimes under investigation took place between 2020 and February 2023. 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.