Four Maltese companies implicated in €130 million Italian tax scam
● Nearly €1 billion in fake invoices issued in ‘gigantic carousel fraud’
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.