Kolāža: dažādas lietas

Published by European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) , 07.05.2024.

(Luxembourg, 7 May 2024) – Investigation ‘Greasy Hands’, led by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Turin (Italy), is targeting a criminal organisation alleged to have imported vehicle lubricants to the Italian market while systematically evading VAT, causing a loss of over €15 million.

Searches and judicial measures were executed today by the Italian Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza) in the provinces of Bari, Campobasso, Foggia, Matera and the regions of Rome, Trieste and Turin. Simultaneously, investigative measures were also carried out in Latvia (Tax and Customs Police Department of the State Revenue Service of the Republic of Latvia). Judicial measures have been taken against 14 individuals, including the suspected ringleaders. Eight of the suspects will remain in pre-trial detention, and six have been placed under house arrest. 

Over 470 tonnes of lubricating oil were seized during the searches, which involved cash dogs – canine units specialised in searching for currency. A freezing order of €15.4 million is also being executed against the suspects. 

At the heart of the fraudulent scheme, according to the investigation, is a criminal association formed of individuals operating in Italy, as well as in Belgium, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, who introduced and marketed large quantities of lubricating oils for cars and trucks, intended for consumers in the Italian market. Based on the evidence, the criminal organisation used multiple strategies to evade VAT and the payment of excise duties, including forged transportation documents and a network of shell companies.

The criminal group is also suspected of counterfeiting motor oil brands and laundering the illicit profits.

The investigation additionally indicates that a company operating in the Matera area, which is one of the main hubs for the sale of vehicle lubricants in central and southern Italy, also sourced oil from the criminal association, concealing over €52 million in profits from the tax authorities.

It is estimated that the illicit activities of the criminal organisation caused a loss of €14 million in unpaid VAT and over €1 million in excise duties, during the 2017–2023 period.

All persons concerned are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in the competent Italian courts of law.

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) is the independent public prosecution office of the European Union. It is responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment crimes against the financial interests of the EU.