Wednesday, June 19, 2024

EUR 69 million tax scam involving illegal ‘cloning’ of Italian into Bulgarian companies

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Diplomat Magazine
DIPLOMAT MAGAZINE “For diplomats, by diplomats” Reaching out the world from the European Union First diplomatic publication based in The Netherlands. Founded by members of the diplomatic corps on June 19th, 2013. "Diplomat Magazine is inspiring diplomats, civil servants and academics to contribute to a free flow of ideas through an extremely rich diplomatic life, full of exclusive events and cultural exchanges, as well as by exposing profound ideas and political debates in our printed and online editions." Dr. Mayelinne De Lara, Publisher

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, Guardi di Finanza Benevento and Naples
  • Bulgaria: Specialised Public Prosecutor’s Office Sofia
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