Joint operation nets 14 alleged VAT fraudsters in several European countries

In a joint investigation team involving Europol and more than 200 law enforcement officers, an organised crime group responsible for massive VAT fraud in several European Union countries has been dismantled, Europol said.

On the morning of January 7, Hungarian law enforcement officers (From the West-Trans Danube Regional Criminal Directorate of National Tax and Customs Administration of Hungary (NCTA) and the Public Prosecutors Office of Győr-Moson-Sopron County), together with  Czech and Slovak investigators, supported by a Europol expert, arrested 14 suspects and seized 4.8 million euro in cash, as well as luxury motor vehicles and real estate.

The organised criminal group had been trading scrap metal between Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, using “missing traders” in the chain to illegally acquire massive amounts of value added tax (VAT) from several EU member states authorities.

According to latest figures in this international investigation, the estimated VAT losses for Slovakian authorities are 17.2 million euro, while Czech authorities have been affected to the tune of 2.7 million euro, Europol said. The criminal assets seized will go towards the recovery of damages in the countries involved, the police agency said in a statement on January 11 2013.

The members of the criminal organisation belong to one family living in the Hungarian town of Győr. Eight of them were arrested during the operation and European Arrest Warrants were issued for a further two suspects. The perpetrators will face up to 16 years imprisonment for being members of a criminal organisation involved in large-scale VAT fraud.

(Photo: Bart Zwan/



The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage.