Conviction after EPPO probe into €23m cross-border VAT fraud
A Slovakian national has been jailed for more than three years following an investigation by the EU's Luxembourg-based fraud-fighting institution, the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), into a major cross-border €23 million VAT evasion scheme.
The case involved the circulation of platinum coins through companies based in Hamburg. Some of the firms did not fulfil their tax obligations, enabling another company – the so-called broker - to claim an undue VAT credit.
The investigation, co-ordinated from EPPO's headquarters in the Kirchberg area of Luxembourg City, led to six arrests last year in the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia.
One of those arrested was convicted by a court in Munich earlier this week, EPPO said in a statement on Thursday. In addition to the prison term of three years and three months, the court ordered the seizure of assets of more than €170,000 belonging to the gang member, including an apartment in Slovakia and nine weapons.
There was just one investigation launched into potential fraud against the EU budget in Luxembourg last year, EPPO said in March, after the head of the agency's delegation in the country warned earlier in the year that detection of offences in the Grand Duchy was weak.
EPPO brings together prosecutors from 22 participating countries to tackle fraud against the EU's budget. Five countries – Poland, Hungary, the Republic of Ireland, Denmark and Sweden – opted out, although Sweden is planning to join later this year.
Since its launch in June to the end of last year, EPPO investigated fraud offences relating to over 500 cases at an estimated loss of €5.4 billion to the EU budget, the agency said in March. By the end of 2021, EPPO had seized €147.3 million - three times its budget for the year.