Cross Border CrimeNews

Europol support to EPPO investigation into EUR 2.2 billion VAT fraud scheme

Europol has been actively supporting the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in its investigation into the biggest cross-border VAT fraud scheme uncovered to date in the EU, worth an estimated EUR 2.2 billion. 

On 29 November, the EPPO, in cooperation with law enforcement agencies in 14 EU Member States and with the support of Europol, carried out simultaneous investigative measures in relation to a complex VAT fraud scheme based on the sale of popular electronic goods. 

Over 200 searches were carried out in Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain. Within the framework of the EPPO operation, searches had previously been conducted in Czechia, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Sweden on 12 and 13 October 2022. 

The case started in April 2021 after the Portuguese Tax Authority in Coimbra started looking into a company selling mobile phones, tablets, earphones and other electronic devices, on suspicion of VAT fraud. 

The case was passed on to the EPPO in June 2021. Since then, the EPPO, Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC) and national law enforcement authorities have established connections between the suspected company in Portugal and close to 9 000 other legal entities, and more than 600 natural persons located in over 30 countries.

Results so far 

  • 312 house searches;
  • 24 arrests in Portugal, Italy and France.


  • 529 bank accounts;
  • shares of 21 legal persons;
  • 81 real estate properties;
  • 31 luxury cars;
  • over EUR 2.5 million in cash; 
  • 104 valuable watches;
  • Connected earbuds of an estimated value of EUR 2 million;
  • 42 luxury accessories; 
  • 1 Kalashnikov;
  • Total value of seizures (so far): EUR 67 million.

Europol’s role 

Upon the request of the European Delegated Prosecutor for Portugal, Europol has been supporting this case since December 2021. 

Europol’s EFECC has been providing extensive analytical support by cross-checking the evidence against its databases and mapping out the key targets and their criminal activities. In addition, Europol’s EFECC has facilitated the obtainment of financial information from Financial Intelligence Units across Europe in the framework of the EU Directive 1153/2019. 

During the action day on 29 November, six Europol experts were deployed on location to assist with the investigative measures at a national level.