By Dan Byrne for AMLi
EUROPOL HAS announced a duo of multi-million-euro financial crime busts in both Ireland and the Netherlands.
The combined total of criminal proceeds connected to these schemes is estimated in the region of €13M
In the Netherlands, Dutch police shut down a criminal network attached to an international VAT fraud scam conducted through an online trading company.
A combination of law enforcement from Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland conducted thirteen house searches, seizing communications equipment and documents from individuals suspected of running the scheme for two years from 2017 to 2019.
The scheme centred around a fake trading circuit for SD memory cards – estimated to be worth €9M, Europol said.
It also involved ‘missing traders’ – companies that specifically exploit cross-border VAT rules by charging full VAT amounts and then absconding to another EU state instead of paying the national government.
“The criminal gang purchased SD cards with VAT from Dutch companies identified as missing traders,” a Friday statement from Europol read. “The goods were then sold to companies in Croatia, and the Czech Republic and exempted of VAT according to intra-EU tax rules.”
Conduit companies were then used to sell the VAT-exempt products back to the missing traders in the Netherlands. This was aided by “buffer” companies that purchased cards in advance and paid only small amounts of tax.
“The criminal gang integrated this so-called ‘VAT carousel fraud’ into the regular commercial activity of an online company selling electronic devices in order to avoid paying VAT,” Europol said, noting that they believe at least eight missing traders have been involved since the scam began.
Meanwhile in Ireland, a gang suspected of laundering over €4M across Europe was intercepted Wednesday by the Irish Criminal Assets Bureau – an agency of the national police force.
5 properties were searched, including one business, and sixteen bank accounts were also frozen. These bank accounts were linked to the members of the criminal network and received cash transfers from countries throughout the continent.
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