POST Online Media Lite Edition


EPPO busts €25 million VAT fraud spread across eight countries

Christian Fernsby |
On 21 February, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) arrested 17 people during an extensive operation carried out in eight countries against a criminal organisation centred in Spain, believed to have orchestrated a massive €25 million VAT fraud through the sales of mobile phones and other electronic equipment.

Article continues below

One of the main suspects in this investigation was arrested in Milan (Italy), in the scope of another EPPO investigation.

During the operation, led by the EPPO office in Madrid (Spain) and code-named ‘Marengo Rosso’, 39 searches were carried out and 17 people were arrested in several countries, in a simultaneous probe in Czechia, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia and Spain.

At stake is a suspected VAT carousel fraud, a complex criminal scheme that takes advantage of EU rules on cross-border transactions between its Member States, as these are exempt from value-added tax (VAT).

According to the investigation, the fraudulent scheme involved the use of shell companies in different countries, through which phones, tablets, computers and other electronic equipment were ostensibly traded, using fictitious invoices, in order to evade the payment of VAT.

The chain of shell companies also allowed to claim VAT reimbursements from the national tax authorities to which the alleged perpetrators were not entitled, all leading to illicit profits of massive proportions. Finally, the goods were sold at very competitive prices through online marketplaces in several countries.

The criminal profits were then laundered and reinvested in high-value real estate in different countries, including Czechia, Italy and Portugal, according to the evidence collected.

One of the main suspects in this operation is also considered the ringleader in a separate investigation in Italy, in which the EPPO previously executed six arrests and a €40 million seizure was recently ordered by the judge.

This suspect has now been arrested in Milan (Italy), in the context of the Italian investigation, code-named ‘VAT Games’, and led by the EPPO’s Milan office with the operational support of the Italian Financial Police of Varese and Milano (Guardia di Finanza, Nucleo PEF Varese and Nucleo PEF Milano).

Operation ‘Marengo Rosso’ also allowed for the freezing of 95 bank accounts and the seizure of 24 properties (18 in Italy, 3 in Portugal and 3 in Czechia), as well as 5 cars (including luxury brands like McLaren, Aston Martin, Jaguar and Range Rover], following a request by the European Delegated Prosecutors in Madrid.

It is estimated that the activities under investigation have, since 2020, caused losses of more than €25 million to the EU and national budgets. The value of the damages is likely to increase, as the investigation is ongoing.

The operation, led by the EPPO office in Madrid, involved the Central Operational Unit of the Spanish Guardia Civil (Unidad Central Operativa) and the Central Unit for Economic and Fiscal Offences of the National Police (Unidad Central de Delincuencia Económica y Fiscal de la Policía Nacional), as well as the Spanish Tax Agency (Agencia Tributaria).

In Italy, the searches and seizures – which included properties, dozens of bank accounts, high-value watches, cash and a handgun with the serial number erased – were executed by the Italian State Police (Polizia di Stato - Direzione Centrale Anticrimine - Servizio Centrale Operativo) and the Italian Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza – Nucleo PEF di Palermo), under the direction of the EPPO.

The operation also counted on the support of Eurojust and Europol, and that of several national law enforcement agencies.

What to read next

Italy discovered 40 million euros of VAT fraud
EPPO unravels €1.6 million fraud involving futuristic water purification machines
Romania: Suspects indicted for participation in transnational organisation operating to fraudulently obtain EU funds

U.S.: Pacific storm over west

An omega pattern aloft will support impactful weather across the Central U.S. this weekend.


U.S. drillers cut oil and gas rigs to 620
4.8 magnitude earthquake rattles New Jersey and New York
Rare species of wild bees discovered in Berlin
UK: Leicester City Council confirms ransomware attack after confidential documents leaked


Finland extends border closure with Russia indefinitely

Russian nationals admit to illegally sending controlled aviation technology to Russia
Germany says Russia ‘very likely’ responsible for Baltic GPS disruptions
Singapore jails second defendant in laundering case
Taiwan earthquake deaths climb to 12
Czech police arrest 14 for drug smuggling


Australia: East coast gas surplus expected in Q3 2024

Kuwait-Saudi rail link to be ready by 2028, says report
Cambodia approves investment projects worth $2.2 in Q1
Venice to charge day trip tourists 5 euros
Commission opens two in-depth investigations in solar photovoltaic sector
UK airports granted extensions to install cutting-edge security technology

Trending Now

Slovenia's economy expected to grow 0.9 pct in Q1

UK scientists win funding for 'cancer detecting' Lollipops

UK's competition watchdog to examine EDF buying GE's nuclear turbine unit

Study finds there's right way and wrong way to deliver negative feedback in workplace


UK Exports Minister visits Latin America to boost trade and unlock billions worth of exports

Argentina, Brazil in talks to reverse Bolivian gas pipeline amid shortage
Trudeau offers $6 billion to provinces to build housing
€1 billion Greek State aid measures to support renewable energy generation and storage projects
North Carolina reaches electric vehicle registration goals two years early
Colorado Energy Office launches tax incentive for geothermal electricity development and production

Today We Recommend

Thieves steal up to $30 million in one of largest cash heists in L.A. history


99 Cents Only Stores to close all 371 stores

Alaska Airlines says Boeing paid $160 mln for 737 Max 9 grounding

Saint-Gobain to acquire Bailey for $650 million


99 Cents Only Stores to close all 371 stores

Alaska Airlines says Boeing paid $160 mln for 737 Max 9 grounding
Lindsay announces agreement to acquire minority interest in Pessl Instruments
Saint-Gobain to acquire Bailey for $650 million
Farmers Mutual Hail to acquire Global Ag from AXA XL
Oar Resources signs deal to acquire Namibian prospecting licences


TerraPay names Marco Boldini as EVP and global head of governmental affairs

Farmers Insurance appoints John Griek as CFO
PA Media Group appoints Emily Shelley as new CEO
BioNTech appoints Annemarie Hanekamp as chief commercial officer
Ecobank Group strengthens leadership team
Veramed appoints Karen Curran as chief strategy officer


Slovenia's economy expected to grow 0.9 pct in Q1

Italy faces deficit infringement procedure
Real GDP increased in all 50 U.S. states
Inflation continues to decline in Germany
UK house prices log unexpected fall
South Korea's FDI logs double digit growth in Q1


Dollarama Q4 sales increased 11.3%

Conagra Brands Q3 sales decreased 1.7%
Liebherr finished 2023 business year with record revenue of €14,042 million
BlackBerry Q4 revenue $173 million
Levi Strauss Q1 revenues 8% lower
PVH Q4 revenue of $2.490 billion flat


Micromanaging is the worst enemy of efficiency and teamwork

Niger set to monetize massive gas reserves through Saharan natural gas pipeline
Putting the brakes on EV folly that choked the market
Oil discovery in Kavango Basin may mean huge benefits for Namibians
Cape Town and Dubai battle over Africa's energy future
Is America going to lose its superpower status?


FAO Food Price Index rises in March

Australia grants license for GM bananas amid Fusarium Wilt TR4 concerns
Indian government allows exports of 10,000 tons of onions to UAE
Analytical survey: Sales of agricultural lands in Ukraine up 50% in February
Decline in Norwegian seafood exports in Q1
Tanzania's first fishing harbor to be completed in 2025


Study finds workers misjudge wage markets

Some organizations may need to expand their hierarchical structures earlier than others
Study finds there's right way and wrong way to deliver negative feedback in workplace
Allyship is critical and its needs appreciation
Generating 'buzz' about new products can influence their success
Hiring 'problem directors' can knock up to 64% off firm's value


HSBC pays penalties for alleged breaches of Consumer Data Right rules

Sanofi to settle thousands of Zantac cancer lawsuits
Former asset manager and board member of Geneva private bank referred to Swiss Federal Criminal Court
South Africa: SAP ordered to pay SIU $26m over 'invalid' Eskom contracts
Former Steinhoff director appears in court for $1.1b fraud, racketeering
Genesis agrees to pay $21 million penalty to settle SEC charges



Buna channels, an unreal and beautiful part of Bosnia and Herzegovina

JW Marriott unveils Mindful Haven with opening of JW Marriott Hotel Nairobi
Sotheby's Sports Week returns with fantastic artifacts
Red Roof properties open in Michigan
Treyam, your premier lagoon destination in Saudi Arabia
San Francisco: SkyStar wheel on Fisherman’s Wharf to stay for another 18 months


2025 Chevrolet Equinox stands apart with fresh looks and capability

Hill Helicopters HX50, luxury in the sky
Opel Movano becomes fully equipped camper van
Porsche Panamera, new hybrid variants
Dodge Charger, 670 horsepower of electric
Pagani Huayra R Evo, 900 hp from 770 Nm


Cold night, hot fire pit, cool entertainment

Embellish your home with PVC panels
You'll have to hurry if you want one of 20 new Louis Vuitton watches
Luxury duvet looks good, fells good and keeps you healthy
Vacheron Constantin, watches for life and more
Schüller kitchens, where functionality marries design


reMarkable 2, monochrome tablet for your thoughts and your eyes

OnePlus Ace 3V, first with Snapdragon 7 Plus Gen 3
ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra, flagship with a reason
Samsung Galaxy S24 is photography powerhouse
Casette tapes are making a big comeback, and so are portable players
Neumann TLM 103, standard microphone for both voice and music


India launches first home-grown gene therapy for cancer

UK scientists win funding for 'cancer detecting' Lollipops
State to cover rare disease treatment costs in Bulgaria
Type 1 diabetes patients in England to receive 'artificial pancreas' as medication
Pilot study shows ketogenic diet improves severe mental illness
Texas reports possibly U.S. first human case of bird flu linked to cattle


SLAC completes construction of largest digital camera ever built for astronomy

Solar eclipse next week in U.S., Mexico and Canada
Gravitational waves may have made human life possible
Astronomers unveil strong magnetic fields spiraling at the edge of Milky Way's central black hole
Scientists on hunt for evidence of quantum gravity's existence at South Pole
Hydrogen train from Switzerland sets world record