On 19 November, law enforcement and judicial authorities from Germany, the Netherlands and Poland, together with counterparts across Europe, targeted a criminal network responsible for defrauding EU citizens of approximately EUR 320 million in tax revenues via a sophisticated carousel fraud scheme. The coordinated action was initiated by the Public Prosecutor's Office of Augsburg and the Bavarian State Criminal Police Office in Germany, as well as the Prosecution Office for Serious Fraud and Environmental Crime of Zwolle and the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service in Almelo, the Netherlands and with the Circuit Prosecutor's Office and the Internal Security Agency, both located in Olsztyn, Poland. Experts from Eurojust and Europol provided support to the investigation.
More than 49 searches and 27 hearings of witnesses and defendants were carried out in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
This joint action, called Operation Vertigo 3, is part of a large-scale investigation into organised VAT fraud. The joint investigation team (JIT), formed by the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland, has benefited from coordination and partial funding from Eurojust since July 2013.
Building upon the successes of previous action days in March and July 2015, as well as several bilateral and multilateral coordination meetings held at Eurojust, this action day focused on searches and hearings of witnesses and defendants, enabling the dedicated team involved to capitalise further on the significant and lengthy work undertaken so far. Prosecution and law enforcement authorities from the Member States concerned worked closely from a coordination centre at Eurojust in The Hague. Europol deployed a mobile office to facilitate real-time information exchange and cross-match analysis of the data collected.
Strong collaboration among all team members from the early stages of this investigation has played a very significant role in supporting Member States' investigation teams, helping the competent authorities to identify key players and carry out effective targeted measures across national borders.