The Malta Independent 12 July 2024, Friday
View E-Paper

11 charged in investigation into customs fraud and corruption of public officials

Wednesday, 10 July 2024, 21:57 Last update: about 1 day ago

In an investigation into customs fraud and corruption led by the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) in Valletta (Malta), 11 suspects were charged on Wednesday, including nine individuals (six customs officers and three customs operators) and two companies, a statement by EPPO read.

"The charges include customs fraud, active and passive corruption of public officials, participation in a criminal organisation and money laundering. The suspects were arraigned under arrest before Malta's Court of Magistrates. This marks the beginning of court proceedings under Malta's judicial system, where suspects are brought to court to hear their charges and the evidence supporting those charges. This is the first case brought to court by the EPPO in Malta."

"At issue is a suspected fraudulent scheme to evade the payment of customs taxes and duties on the importation of clothing, bags, shoes and other goods from China, by under-declaring their value and weight. It is alleged that this was done with the complicity of customs officials, who are believed to have been offered money to refrain from correctly carrying out their duties. It is understood that the illicit activities started in December 2021 and were halted in July 2023, when eight suspects were arrested at the request of the EPPO. It is estimated that these activities caused a damage of over €15.9 million to Malta's national budget and over €7.6 million to the EU budget," EPPO said.

"Earlier in this investigation, in order to recover the damage to the EU and national budgets, the EPPO seized property worth €6 million and 195 containers of goods, worth a combined value of €5.8 million, as well as vehicles, luxury items and €170 000 in cash. The EPPO counted on the support of the Financial Crime Investigations Department within the Malta Police Force, Malta's Customs and VAT Departments and Malta's Asset Recovery Bureau. All persons concerned are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in the competent Maltese 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.

 


  • don't miss