Four Mal­tese com­pa­nies im­pli­cated in €130 mil­lion Ital­ian tax scam

● Nearly €1 bil­lion in fake in­voices is­sued in ‘gi­gan­tic carousel fraud’

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE -

Four Mal­tese com­pa­nies have been im­pli­cated in what the Ital­ian au­thor­i­ties are de­scrib­ing as a ‘gi­gan­tic carousel fraud’, the Vi­cenza Guardia di Fi­nanza re­ported yes­ter­day.

The scam, which was per­pe­trated through 145 Ital­ian com­pa­nies and 35 com­pa­nies out­side of Italy, four of which were in Malta, saw €130 mil­lion be­ing col­lected in value added tax cred­its and the pro­duc­tion of al­most €1 bil­lion in false in­voices.

In a scam that the Ital­ian au­thor­i­ties have de­scribed as “colos­sal and sys­tem­atic” and which has been in op­er­a­tion since 2009, a to­tal of 29 peo­ple have now been ar­rested.

The Ital­ian in­ves­ti­ga­tion, dubbed ‘Round Trip’, al­lowed the per­pe­tra­tors to cir­cum­vent in­tra-EU VAT agree­ments by set­ting up bo­gus ven­dors who would is­sue fake in­voices in­clu­sive of VAT, and pro­vide for the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of tax cred­its for the bo­gus buyer of goods.

The busi­ness, how­ever, was only on pa­per and goods were never ex­changed in re­al­ity. The scam was run out of Vi­cenza by a crim­i­nal or­gan­i­sa­tion and the prof­its were di­vided up between the com­pa­nies in­volved in the scam.

In ad­di­tion to Italy and Malta, other com­pa­nies in­volved in the racket were lo­cated in Aus­tria,

the Czech Re­pub­lic, Slo­vakia, Poland, Bel­gium, Bul­garia, Croa­tia, Ger­many, Ro­ma­nia, Cyprus, the UK, Ire­land, Latvia and the Nether­lands.

The in­voices for nonex­is­tent goods were mainly re­lated to hitech prod­ucts such as tablet com­put­ers and tele­vi­sions, and also to more com­mon house­hold goods such as pow­ered milk, sugar and flour.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions had been on­go­ing since 2013, dur­ing which time Ital­ian in­ves­ti­ga­tors in­ter­cepted tele­phone and email con­ver­sa­tions, con­ducted searches, take­outs and sev­eral tax au­dits through­out Italy.

All the sus­pects are Ital­ian, with the ex­cep­tion of one Ser­bian who has been liv­ing in Vi­cenza for years, the Ital­ian au­thor­i­ties said yes­ter­day, mean­ing that the Mal­tese com­pa­nies had been set up in Malta by Ital­ian na­tional. 18 ac­com­plices have been re­manded in cus­tody and an­other 11 are un­der house ar­rest.

The names of the Mal­tese com­pa­nies in­volved have not been re­leased.

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