The European Public Prosecutor's Office announced on Tuesday March 28 that it had uncovered in Belgium a system of VAT fraud on goods imported from China suspected of having allowed more than 300 million euros in tax evasion.
Four people were arrested and ten searches carried out in different places in Belgium, in particular in Zeebrugge (north) and at Liège airport (east), one of the main platforms in Europe for e-commerce with China.
It is estimated that the activities under investigation have caused, between 2019 and 2022, damages of at least 303 million euros in evaded VAT and 6.6 million euros in customs duties"
, said in a press release the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO, according to the acronym in English).
Fraud via front companies
The money would have been diverted to the detriment of the European taxpayer via the customs procedure known as "
", which provides that an importer is exempt from VAT in the EU country through which the good passes before being sold in another Member state.
But false final destinations were declared, thanks to the use of shell companies in France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Spain, according to the European prosecutor's office.
Thus the VAT on these goods - electronic equipment, toys and quantity of accessories - was retained by the seller.
The goods were finally sold to the final consumer, who paid the full price of the products, including VAT
,” the statement explains.
However, the investigations showed that this tax paid by the final consumer “
has never been declared nor paid to any tax administration by the alleged criminal organization
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According to the Belgian newspaper L'Echo, the firm at the center of the investigation is the logistics company Easylog Solutions, which served as a relay in Belgium for a fraudulent system developed by the Chinese.
This is one of the largest files to date for the Belgian section of the European public prosecutor's office.
This jurisdiction, in which 22 EU countries participate, was launched in June 2021 with the task of investigating and prosecuting offenses that could harm the financial interests of the Union, including cross-border VAT fraud and transnational crime.