Tax evasion scandal worth EUR 15 million in the meat industry lands people in jail

Newsroom 13/03/2014 | 09:48

Two criminal groups of over 80 people is suspected to have imported meat from EU states which it then proceeded to sell on “the black market” with help from big names in the meat industry, including government officials. 

DIICOT prosecutors performed 102 raids on Wednesday in 18 counties to unveil evidence against the two criminal groups suspected of altered goods trafficking, money laundering, tax evasion and corruption.

10 people were retained on Wednesday for their implication in the file, after the prosecutors interrogated over 30 suspects. The interrogation will continue on Thursday.

The National Authority for Consumer Protection (ANPC) retired over 230 tons of expired meat and meat products from the market place in the same investigation, according to Marius Dunca, the chief of the institution. 129 tons were retired indefinitely, and another 100 tons were temporarily retired. According to the same source, the goods confiscated had quality issues and lacked the adequate documentation. On Thursday, ANPC inspectors will organize nation-wide inspections to make sure no other altered products entered supermarkets.

The individuals under investigation are suspected to have acquired meat and eggs from the Netherlands, Poland, UK and Germany without paying the VAT according to legal provisions. Afterwards, the meat was sold to the final beneficiary with added VAT.

“After buying goods in the EU, the criminal members performed fictional deliveries for phantom firms in other EU states, coordinated by members from overseas, which have not been identified yet. The stocks in Romania era delivered on paper to Bulgaria, Hungary and Cyrpus, so that Romanian societies would not have to pay VAT. The products were actually sold in Romania without documentation, on the black market”, DIICOT mentions.

Another method of tax evasion implied delivering the meat to commercial societies in Bulgaria and Hungary and afterwards sending it back to Romania through “buffer” firms. The firms were then abandoned and the products sold on the internal market without registering the transactions through the accounting department.

“This method implied the collaboration of local meat producers”, the prosecutors specified.

Among the people currently under investigation, the prosecutors mentioned they have an inspector for OPC Cluj and a ANSV counselor.

There are further suspicions that the suspects sent altered meat toward the abatoirs which then mixed it with other products and sold it for consumption.

The total damages in this case rise up to EUR 15 million.

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