In a joint investigation team involving Europol and over 200 law enforcement officers, an organised crime group responsible for massive VAT fraud in several EU countries has been dismantled.
On the morning of 7 January, 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 euros 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 around 17.2 million euros, whilst Czech authorities have been affected to the tune of 2.7 million euros. The criminal assets seized will go towards the recovery of damages in the countries involved.
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.