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Germany: EPPO Busts €200 Million Customs and VAT Fraud Ring in Organized Crime Operation

  • The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) carried out over 200 searches in Germany and the Netherlands to target a customs and VAT fraud ring.
  • The fraud ring is believed to have caused over €200 million in evaded tax and customs duties.
  • Over 300 tax and customs investigators raided more than 200 locations and seized cash, luxury cars, smartphones, hard disks, and servers.
  • Four suspects leading the fraud scheme were arrested and are currently in detention.
  • The investigation, called ‘Masquerade Ball’, focuses on an organized crime group involving Chinese nationals.
  • The group undervalued and evaded customs duties and VAT on imported goods by using fake invoices and abusing an EU importation mechanism.
  • The group falsified the movements of goods using shell companies and managed to evade VAT payment entirely.
  • The criminal group created a network of middlemen in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands to oversee customs clearance procedures and logistics.
  • The EPPO’s transnational cooperation with different law enforcement authorities was crucial in connecting the dots between the countries where the group operated.
  • The EPPO worked with customs and tax investigation offices, federal police, and other authorities in Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
  • The EPPO is responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes against the financial interests of the EU.


Note that this post was (partially) written with the help of AI. It is always useful to review the original source material, and where needed to obtain (local) advice from a specialist.


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