Support to halt money laundering in Italy via tax fraud and fake invoices

05 March 2024|PRESS RELEASE
Flags of IT, PT, ES and Eurojust logo

Eurojust has supported judicial authorities in Italy, Portugal and Spain in halting an elaborate money-laundering scheme via tax fraud. In a coordinated operation, five suspects have been arrested in Italy and Spain for laundering illicit criminal proceeds by committing VAT fraud on the alleged import of frozen fish from Portugal and Spain. The main suspect is associated with the Cosa Nostra mafia-type criminal organisation.

© - Guardia di Finanza

In a recent operation, approximately EUR 3.3 million in cash, luxury vehicles and jewellery were seized. This includes the seizing of cash and blocking of bank accounts worth around EUR 600 000 by the Spanish authorities. In total, twelve individuals are currently under investigation by the Italian authorities, including the five suspects who were detained.

The suspects were allegedly involved in a criminal network that laundered money via a complex tax fraud scheme, using fake invoices and avoiding the payment of VAT to the Italian authorities. For this purpose, an enterprise for the importing of frozen fish products from Portugal and Spain was set up. They are now formally suspected of money laundering, tax fraud, criminal association and the fraudulent transfer of valuables.

Eurojust assisted with the execution of European Arrest Warrants and European Investigation Orders, as well as freezing orders, via the National Desks of Italy, Portugal and Spain. The operations on the ground were carried out at the request of and supported by the following authorities:

  • Italy: Public Prosecutor’s Office of Genoa; Guardia di Finanza (Central Service for Investigation on Organised Crime – SCICO)
  • Portugal: DCIAP (Departamento Central de Investigação e Acção Penal); TCIC (Tribunal Central de Instrução Criminal)
  • Spain: Investigative Judge no. 4 Vigo (Juzgado Instruccion no. 4): Audiencia Nacional Pulbic Prosecutor (Fiscalia Audiencia Nacional); UDEF Policia Nacional and Catalan Mossos d’Esquadra