Italy: EPPO seizes 2.4 million metres of smuggled textiles worth €3 million

Rome: In an investigation into textile smuggling led by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Bologna (Italy), the Italian Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza) of Prato have seized 2.4 million metres of illegally imported fabric, with an estimated value of €3 million.

Law enforcement officers have seized rolls of fabric found in the warehouse of a company in the district of Prato, which is under investigation for smuggling textiles from China, while evading the payment of custom duties and VAT. The company’s bank account, which holds €34 000, has also been frozen.

The goods were stored in the warehouse before being sold on the domestic market. Based on the evidence, the company used forged invoices and transport documents from fake suppliers in France, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia, in order to conceal the actual origin of the shipments – thus evading the payment of custom duties and VAT, by selling the goods on the black market.

According to the investigation, the scheme allowed the suspects to sell the textiles at low prices, hence obtaining an unlawful advantage over honest economic operators.

The investigation also made it possible to identify the suspected actual manager of the company, which operated under a figurehead, who had been officially named as its legal representative.

The rolls of fabric seized by judicial order will be sold at a public auction, and the proceeds will be confiscated in case of a final conviction, in order to compensate the damage to the EU budget.

All persons concerned are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in the competent Italian courts of law.

The 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.