Italy/Austria: Multi-million Euro beer VAT fraud detected

The state police in Bolzano, Italy, arrested 7 people in context with an international million-dollar VAT fraud, which was detected last month. The arrested, 3 Italians from Naples and Rome and 3 Romanians, 1 Austrian, and 8 people more are accused of having set up a system of fictional societies, thanks to which they did not pay VAT and alcohol taxes in Italy. Thus, the beer could be sold in Italy at much cheaper prices than the competition. With this system, the Italian organization are said to have saved at least two million euros tax.

The arrested Austrian beverage retailer, who was released in the mean-time, is said to have acted as a sham exporter since April 2015 and delivered large quantities of beer and other alcoholic beverages totaling EUR 3.6 million to Italian companies, which were designated as exempt from tax. The recipients - Romanian citizens - continued to sell the drinks and collected sales tax without subsequently having to pay the royalties due to the Italian authorities.

Next to the Italian authorities, also Austrian prosecutors are involved in the case. Christian Ackerler, Austria's highest tax investigator in the Ministry of Finance, reported that the Italian state suffered considerable damage while no damage could be proven so far in Austria.

Just two months ago, German prosecutors and customs detected a similar case of beer tax fraud with damages totaling EUR 32 million (, 18.3.2019).

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