Two people have been arrested this week at the request of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Athens (Greece) and Cologne (Germany) and 42 searches were carried out in those countries as part of an investigation into a suspected cross border organised crime group. The group is understood to have orchestrated a €30.7 million VAT fraud involving small electronic devices.
It is alleged that between 2021 and 2022, the suspects purchased earphones and other small electronic devices – either directly or through other legal entities – and then sold the goods to Greek companies, without paying VAT. It is understood that, in order to do so, the goods were initially invoiced to so-called missing traders – shell companies established for the sole purpose of evading the payment of VAT.
This week, law enforcement agents carried out 42 searches in Greece and Germany and seized twelve cars, including several luxury SUVs and sports cars, goods with a value of more than €100 000, a large number of smartphones, laptops and desktop computers, and more than €250 000 in cash. The Greek authorities have also executed two European Arrest Warrants issued by the EPPO’s Cologne office, concerning suspects understood to have organised the German component of the VAT fraud scheme.
The searches, seizures and arrests were executed in Greece by the Hellenic Independent Authority for Public Revenue’s Thessaloniki Service for Investigations and Safeguarding Public Revenue, the Attica Police Security Division’s Department of Property Rights and the Forensic Science Division of the Hellenic Police, and in Germany by the North Rhine-Westphalian tax crime and police authorities.
This well prepared and organised action is an excellent example of how the European Delegated Prosecutors work closely together within the EPPO zone and of the EPPO’s close cooperation with the tax crime investigation services and police forces in Germany and Greece.
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