Eurojust has supported the Italian and Bulgarian authorities to counter an elaborate tax scam of at least EUR 69 million. During an action day, 26 suspects were identified who had illegally changed or 'cloned' Italian into Bulgarian enterprises, to avoid paying tax. A hotel and other properties, as well as other assets with a total value of EUR 11 million, were seized. The operation was the result of a joint investigation team (JIT) between the two authorities concerned, which was set up with the assistance of Eurojust.
The perpetrators administratively changed the registration of enterprises in the tourism, construction and food distribution sectors from Italian into Bulgarian hands, without genuinely handing over ownership. Via this illegal method, they had been managing to dodge taxes in Italy since 2013.
The illegal activities mainly took place in the province of Benevento, but a total of 29 places were searched in this region, as well as in Avellino, Rome, Milan, Naples, Cosenza, and Varese, as well as Sofia and Plovdiv in Bulgaria. Furthermore, in Bulgaria bank accounts have been frozen and ownership of the companies used there for the scam has been suspended.
Apart from supporting and funding the JIT, the Agency facilitated the execution of European Investigation Orders for the gathering of evidence, and organised coordination meetings to prepare for the actions.
The operation was carried out on the ground by:
- Italy: Public Prosecutor’s Office Benevento, Guardia di Finanza Benevento and Naples
- Bulgaria: Specialised Public Prosecutor’s Office Sofia