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Croatia: Six indicted for smuggling millions of cigarettes

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Croatian version below

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Zagreb today filed an indictment against six defendants for the criminal offences of illegal trade of cigarettes, tax or customs duty evasion and bribery, committed as part of a criminal organisation.

There are reasons to believe that the first defendant, from 18 March 2021 to 25 January 2022, organised a joint operation with the other defendants, with the aim of smuggling large quantities of cigarettes without the tobacco stamps that certify the payment of due taxes – to the detriment of the financial interests of the European Union and the Republic of Croatia.

According to the investigation, cigarettes were being shipped from Dubai to Croatia, which were then illegally transported to other EU Member States via the Port of Ploce, without undergoing the mandatory declaration procedure at customs, and sold on the illegal market.

It is understood that once the smuggled cigarettes were delivered in containers from Dubai to the Port of Ploče, they were transported by truck to a warehouse in Zagreb, rented by two of the defendants.

In order for the containers to undergo official customs procedures without being inspected, the defendants are believed to have paid an undercover investigator acting as a customs officer a total amount of €90 000.

The defendants are accused of: having organised transportation by sea from Dubai of a total of 7 containers of at least 90 tonnes – i.e., 5 798 400 packs – of smuggled cigarettes; of illegally shipping 3 of those containers of at least 35 tonnes of smuggled cigarettes across the customs and border line into Croatia, without declaring them to the customs officers; and of transporting the cargo by truck to Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and other EU Member States, to sell it on the illegal market. By doing so, they are believed to have achieved a pecuniary gain of at least €2,7 million.

The estimated damages inflicted on public finances are approximately €3.3 million, of which €3.22 million pertains to the budget of the Republic of Croatia, and the remaining €80 000 to the budget of the European Union, on account of the evasion of customs duties.

Since the smuggling of four containers of cigarettes was not accomplished, as these were seized by customs and police officers, further damages to public finances were prevented. Had the criminal activity not been detected and intercepted, total damages would have been €9.6 million – of which over €9.3 million pertains to the budget of the Republic of Croatia, and around €183 000 to the EU budget.

Hrvatska: Šestorica optuženih zbog krijumčarenja milijuna cigareta

Ured europskog javnog tužitelja (EPPO) u Zagrebu danas je podigao optužnicu protiv šestorice okrivljenika zbog kaznenih djela nedozvoljene trgovine cigaretama, utaje poreza ili carine te davanja mita, počinjenih u sastavu zločinačke organizacije.

Osnovano se sumnja da je prvookrivljenik u razdoblju od 18. ožujka 2021. do 25. siječnja 2022. organizirao zajedničko djelovanje s ostalim okrivljenicima u cilju krijumčarenja velikih količina cigareta bez duhanskih markica, na štetu financijskih interesa Europske unije i Republike Hrvatske.

Istragom je utvrđeno da su se cigarete prevozile iz Dubaija u Hrvatsku, a zatim su se ilegalno prevozile u druge države članice Unije preko luke Ploče, bez podvrgavanja propisanom carinskom postupku prijave cigareta, te su prodavane na ilegalnom tržištu.

Također je utvrđeno da su krijumčarene cigarete, nakon što su u kontejnerima dopremljene iz Dubaija u luku Ploče, kamionom prevezene u skladište u Zagrebu, koje su unajmila dvojica okrivljenika.

Kako bi službena carinska postupanja bila obavljena bez pregleda kontejnera, okrivljenici su prikrivenom istražitelju kao carinskom službeniku platili ukupni iznos od 90.000 eura.

Okrivljenicima se stavlja na teret da su organizirali pomorski prijevoz ukupno 7 kontejnera s najmanje 90 tona – odnosno 5 798 400 kutija – krijumčarenih cigareta iz Dubaija, da su nezakonito prevezli 3 od tih kontejnera s najmanje 35 tona krijumčarenih cigareta preko carinske i granične crte u Hrvatsku bez prijavljivanja carinskim službenicima, te da su ih potom prevezli kamionom u Sloveniju, Mađarsku, Slovačku, Poljsku i druge države članice Unije radi prodaje na ilegalnom tržištu. Time su ostvarili nepripadnu materijalnu korist u iznosu od najmanje 2,7 milijuna eura.

Procijenjena šteta za javne financije iznosi oko 3,3 milijuna eura, od čega se 3,22 milijuna eura odnosi na proračun Republike Hrvatske, a preostalih 80 000 eura na proračun Europske unije, po osnovi utaje carine.

Budući da krijumčarenje četiriju kontejnera cigareta nije ostvareno, jer su ih zaplijenili carinski i policijski službenici, spriječen je daljnji nastanak štete za javne financije. Da ova kriminalna aktivnost nije otkrivena i prekinuta, ukupna nanesena šteta bila bi veća za 9,6 milijuna eura – od čega se više od 9,3 milijuna eura odnosi na proračun Republike Hrvatske, a oko 183 000 eura na proračun Unije.