THE PARTICULAR BIANTLON INTEGRITY UNIT PLUS SAFEGUARD COMPETITIONS COMPANION SPORTRADAR INTERGRITY SERVICES COMPANION

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Today, 18 suspects were detained by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office in Venice (Italy), believed to be part a criminal organization that sells office supplies at low prices and fraudulently avoids VAT payment. The profits are estimated at EUR58 millions.

After targeted administrative checks against several companies involved in the trading of stationery and consumables to print equipment, the investigation began in 2020. These products were sold at extremely low prices, which was not consistent with the market. This raised suspicions from the Italian Financial Police (Nucleo di Polizia Economico Finanziaria Bolzano-Guardia di Finanza).

Investigations revealed that there was a sophisticated fraud scheme involving over 30 suspects. They used a network of companies mainly located in the Triveneto area, but also in many EU countries, to handle the importation of these goods into Italy. However, they systematically failed to pay VAT.

The group was able to resell imported products at very attractive prices due to VAT evasion, primarily toners for professional printers but also stationery, thereby distorting the principles and fair competition.

Two Paduan entrepreneurs remain in custody. They are believed to have been the promoters of this scheme. It involved destitute people working as’strawmen’ for 30 companies. This made it impossible to recover the VAT due. Court order has been issued to seize the assets of both suspects. They are estimated to be worth EUR26 million.

The investigation revealed that the fraud profits allowed the suspects to acquire large personal assets such as a Ferrari and other high-end cars as well as valuable real property.

This group is also suspected to have laundered money through lucrative investments in Italy, abroad, in real estate, tourism, and cryptocurrencies.

The EPPO requested that the Court of Padua’s Judge for Preliminary Investigations issue the following coercive actions to the suspects who were arrested today: Three will remain in prison; eight will be placed under house arrest; and three will be required to live in compulsory residence. Four suspects were also banned from exercising executive offices in legal entities and companies.

The court ordered the pre-seizure of money, financial assets, and vehicles to a total of EUR58 million to be carried out against 19 individuals and 20 businesses in order to recover damages to the EU and national budgets. Eight companies also have their shares taken.

Today’s operation included 30 searches, mainly in Veneto but also in other regions of northern Italy, by more than 100 Financial Police officers as well as ‘cash dogs’, canine units that are specialized in finding currency.

The EPPO coordinated the investigation that lasted more than two years. It involved South Tyrolean Financial Police officers in collaboration with investigators from the Netherlands, Czechia and the UK.

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