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European prosecutors arrest four in probe of suspected tax crime ring

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By Reuters

BUCHAREST – Authorities have arrested four people in the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia on suspicion of forming a tax evasion crime ring in Germany, European prosecutors said on Thursday, adding 23 million euros worth of assets had been seized.

“The main suspects organised a so-called value added tax carousel, which involved the repeated circulation of platinum coins through the same companies,” the European Public Prosecutor’s Office in Luxembourg said in a statement.

The arrests took place over the past two days, it said.

EPPO said some of the companies, “the so-called missing traders, did not fulfil their tax obligations, and therefore permitted another of these companies, based in Germany – the so-called broker – to claim an undue VAT credit.”

Prosecutors said the estimated tax loss in Germany resulting from these activities was at least 23 million euros. The core of the criminal activity, it said, was located in Hamburg, with money laundering primarily organised in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, with important links in Romania.

Under the operation, bank accounts and assets were frozen in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The EPPO did not elaborate.

The newly-launched EPPO began its work on June 1, led by Romania’s former anti-corruption chief prosecutor Laura Kovesi, focusing on serious cross-border cases involving EU funds.