The Polish Police Central Bureau of Investigation (Centralne Biuro Śledcze Policji), with the support of the Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) and Europol, has unravelled a sophisticated tax evasion scheme which caused over EUR 34 million in tax loss to the Polish state budget. A total of 10 individuals were arrested for their involvement in this value-added tax (VAT) fraud scheme.
Police raids were carried out simultaneously on 26 May in Spain and Poland. A total of 7 Eastern European fugitives were arrested in the Spanish Canary Islands. Three additional members of this gang were arrested in Poland on the same day in the region of Śląsk and nearby the city of Łódź. Law enforcement also seized more than EUR 8 million in cash and goods, including real estate and luxury vehicles.
This cross-border clampdown targeted an Eastern European organised crime group using a sophisticated infrastructure to facilitate tax evasion. Fake companies were set up which provided fictitious invoices and documentation to claim back undue VAT refunds.
As a result of international police coordination facilitated by Europol, the fugitives were tracked down in Spain where they had been keeping a low profile among the tourists visiting the Canary Islands.
All of them have been arrested under European Arrest Warrants issued by the Polish judicial authorities and are now awaiting extradition to Poland.
Europol’s European Serious Organised Crime Centre facilitated the international cooperation between the involved countries by providing a secure platform of communication, running cross-checks against Europol’s databases and providing analytical and operational expertise to tailor the respective investigation strategies.