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Tobacco smuggling case leads to first EPPO indictment in Lithuania

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On Monday (24 January 2022), the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Lithuania referred a criminal case to the Vilnius Regional Court. Two officials of the Vilnius Territorial Customs road post in Šalčininkai are accused of abuse of office, and of assisting in the tobacco smuggling and illegal disposal of excise goods allegedly carried out by two citizens of the Republic of Belarus. All four are accused of acting as an organised group.

The evidence in the criminal case suggests that at the end of 2019, the two Belarusian citizens were in possession of a large amount of cigarettes when they passed a customs post in Lithuania. The Belarusian suspects did not declare the cigarettes, and the Lithuanian customs officials intentionally did not carry out their checks. Over the course of several months, the organised group managed to bring more than 3 million cigarette packs into the territory of the European Union without paying any taxes on the excised goods.

The actions of the suspects caused estimated damages of almost € 10 million to the EU and Lithuanian budgets. The EPPO office in Vilnius took over the case in June 2021 and the Lithuanian Customs Criminal Service (Muitinės kriminalinė tarnyba) carried out the pre-trial investigation of the criminal case.