A plot falls that distributed in Spain diesel from the European Union modified to avoid community tax controls

This product was finally sold in various Autonomous Communities to 'low cost' or 'private label' service stations, with a double fiscal benefit: non-payment of the Hydrocarbon Tax thanks to the adulteration of the product, and also VAT, not entering the tax passed on to your customers. All this from a business structure that included a large number of instrumental companies and figureheads.

The National Office of Inspection and Investigation of Customs of the Tax Agency (ONII) begins the operation, called 'Copernicus', in 2018, under the direction of the Court of Instruction number 2 of Orihuela (Alicante), although in sight of the facts revealed during the investigation, the case is transferred to the National Court, which is currently continuing the investigation, with the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor also participating.

Opaque and modified diesel

The organization was specially established in the province of Alicante, where its address was located, although its action extended to eight Autonomous Communities: Valencian Community, Catalonia, Aragon, Galicia, Andalusia, Murcia, Castilla La Mancha and Navarra.

To develop its organized fraud activity in the hydrocarbon sector, it acquired in other EU member states products with characteristics virtually identical to automotive diesel, but specially designed to be able to circulate to Spain outside of fiscal control procedures. community, so that they were received in our country in an opaque way.

Once the product was already in Spain, the plot distributed diesel fuel to 'low cost' service stations without having paid the Special Hydrocarbon Tax. The avoidance of the tax allowed them to acquire a very advantageous position in the market by being able to offer very competitive prices. At the same time, the organization endorsed the VAT collected and collected from customers, instead of paying it to the Public Treasury.

For this, the organization had a whole network of companies and collaborators that attended to the different needs of the business: companies that invoice the product and receive money in other member states, instrumental companies to issue invoices and collect from end customers, national and international transport, unloading facilities, supply of additives and flavorings, as well as a whole network of sales representatives, also having several figureheads to hide the true responsibility of the activity.

Circumvention of quality controls and threats

Copernicus OperationTo achieve the ends of the organization, the product circulated under cover of circulation documents with false recipients, or with incomplete data to avoid being located. In addition, it was received in facilities outside the hydrocarbon distribution control system to, from there, distribute the product to service stations.

The use of this type of facilities also means that the product is not subject to the quality controls of its technical specifications, and its continued use may even cause damage to the vehicles that refuel at the service stations from which the final retail distribution, with consequent consumer fraud. In fact, the plot even used flavorings to give the product the appearance of normal quality diesel.

In addition, the organization did not hesitate to use coercion and threatened violent actions to achieve its objectives, even going so far as to go to the well-known organization 'Angeles del Infierno', considered internationally as a true criminal organization .

Arrests and searches

The research covers more than 100 natural persons from various countries (Spain, Poland, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania and Armenia), as well as 90 Spanish legal entities and from other EU member states (Estonia, Czech Republic, Portugal, Bulgaria, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Malta and Lithuania).
Copernicus OperationIn the framework of the investigation, various entry and registration actions were carried out in up to 19 offices, facilities and private homes, in which more than 150 officials from the Tax Agency participated, both in Customs Surveillance and Customs and Excise inspection. and of the Computer Audit Units.

43 people were arrested, ordering the entry into prison of 10 of them, and about 300,000 euros in cash were seized, in addition to real estate, more than a hundred bank accounts, high-end vehicles and luxury objects.

All the actions have been coordinated by the ONII, with the Alicante Customs Surveillance acting as the judicial police and with specifically designated officials in judicial assistance tasks.

Currently, work continues to finalize the investigation and the definitive quantification of the tax fraud committed, which investigators place at a minimum close to 11 million euros. In the case of a judicial case with wide international ramifications, an international judicial cooperation file has been opened within the framework of Eurojust, and several European orders for the investigation of money movements and seizures of bank accounts abroad have been processed.

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