Italy Convicts Four in €58 Million Toner Fraud Scheme for Money Laundering and Forgery.

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Date: Wednesday March 20, 2024 07:21:48 pm
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    Italy Convicts Four in €58 Million Toner VAT Fraud for Money Laundering and Forgery.
    In a probe spearheaded by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Venice, Italy, four individuals have been found guilty of participating in a criminal enterprise focused on selling toner cartridges and office supplies at discounted rates, while systematically avoiding VAT payments. These convictions mark the initial outcomes of the ‘Cheap Ink’ investigation, revealing a substantial VAT carousel fraud totaling €58 million.

    Two Padua-based entrepreneurs, a father and son duo, received sentences of six years and two months each for orchestrating the fraudulent scheme. Their charges included involvement in organized crime, VAT fraud, money laundering, falsification of public documents (including notary deeds), and signature forgery. Additionally, an accountant linked to the criminal operation was sentenced to two years and two months, while a figurehead, acting as the legal representative for several implicated companies, received a two-year and one-month prison term.

    These verdicts were reached through an expedited legal process outlined in Italy’s Code of Criminal Procedure. One defendant accused of acting as a front for one of the companies was acquitted, with the ruling subject to potential appeal.

    The investigation unveiled an intricate fraud setup involving over 100 suspects and a network of businesses primarily situated in Italy’s Triveneto region, as well as various other EU nations. Exploiting financially vulnerable individuals as proxies for numerous companies, the scheme enabled the importation of toner cartridges and stationery into Italy without paying VAT, facilitating the resale of these goods at highly competitive prices, thereby distorting market competition norms.

    Earlier stages of the investigation saw the Italian Financial Police (Nucleo di Polizia Economico-Finanziaria Bolzano – Guardia di Finanza) seize cash, real estate, and luxury assets from 20 companies and 15 suspects, some of whom faced restrictive measures. Remaining suspects await trial.

    The EPPO, since assuming control in October 2021, has overseen operations spanning Austria, Czechia, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom. The EPPO’s unified operational framework expedited the dismantling of a complex transnational criminal network, culminating in the swift prosecution of its leaders within two-and-a-half years, a process significantly faster and more comprehensive than previous judicial cooperation methods.

    As the independent public prosecution office of the European Union, the EPPO is tasked with investigating, prosecuting, and adjudicating crimes against the EU’s financial interests.
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