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30 January 2015
Police action took place on 28 January against a network of money launderers operating in France and Spain. The action has resulted so far in arrests in Catalonia, Andalusia, Aix en Provence and Perpignan, and the search of business premises, including a brothel in Spain. Numerous documents were also seized during the searches.
The laundered funds were alleged to have been obtained from the sale of vehicles on which VAT was not paid. The vehicles were bought in Germany, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria and later sold in France and Italy using a network of companies.
The investigation into the network started in France two years ago and is being carried out by the French police of Toulouse, jointly with the Service National de Douane Judiciaire (SNDJ) Lyon, led by an investigating judge from the Juridictions inter-régionales spécialisées (JIRS) Lyon.
A parallel investigation is being carried out in Spain by the Guardia Civil (Judicial Police) and the Mossos d’Esquadra (Catalonian Police), under the lead of the Investigating Judge nr 1 and the Public Prosecution Office of Tarragona.
Four coordination meetings were subsequently held at Eurojust, during which the concerned parties agreed to set up a joint investigation team (JIT). Eurojust supplied valuable assistance in identifying possible ne bis in idem issues, facilitating the execution of Letters of Request and reaching a common agreement on a joint action day.
Yesterday’s successful operations were supported by a coordination centre at Eurojust run by the French Desk, with the cooperation of the Spanish Desk, and assisted by the Eurojust Case Analysis Unit, which allowed real-time judicial support and analysis to be provided to the national authorities.
Figures at a glance:
- Arrests: 29 in Spain; 2 in France
- Searches: 15 in Spain; 2 in France
- Estimated amount of funds laundered: EUR 20 million
Carousel fraud involves multiple businesses providing false documentation and shipping real or imaginary goods or commodities and services imported VAT-free from country to country. VAT is claimed from the local government at each stop. In the end, the goods are sold, often on the black market, and the national treasuries lose millions of Euros in bogus VAT claims. The same goods or commodities can make several rounds, thus earning the name carousel fraud. For further information on carousel and acquisition fraud, see Eurojust News.
Eurojust’s coordination centres are held on the action day and are used to coordinate the operations at judicial level in the involved countries. Eurojust’s coordination centres facilitate real-time information exchange between judicial and law enforcement authorities and enable on-the-spot decision-making and immediate response by national judicial authorities to new developments. Coordination centres also provide all involved countries with an up-to-date overview of the operations and results.
Further information on JITs can be found on the Eurojust website and in Eurojust News, issue #9.
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