The arrested persons are accused of gang and commercial smuggling and evasion of import duties. One accused is also suspected of money laundering, as he bought a smuggled car. However, he knew of the illegality of the importation, particularly the evasion of import duties for the vehicle.
Between 2018 and September 2021, an internationally active criminal group in Germany, Estonia, and the Netherlands imported more than 40 motor vehicles with a total value of around €14.8 million from non-EU countries (mainly Russia and Asia) via Lithuania and the Netherlands into the EU without paying import duties (customs duty and import VAT). The group deceived the competent customs authorities in Lithuania and the Netherlands about the actual value of the imported vehicles by declaring water or flood damage or technical defects. Later inspections of these vehicles revealed that they were not defective or damaged. The accused subsequently sold the vehicles through their car dealerships at a profit.
It is assumed that the deception of the customs authorities regarding the reduced value of the imported goods in the Netherlands and Lithuania was carried out via intermediaries who created the false value of the imported vehicles to obtain the lowest possible customs clearance. The import and customs documents were therefore prepared so that the customs authorities were led to believe in a reduced value of the vehicles.
The EPPO seized several smuggled luxury cars with a total value of nearly €1 million and based on the available evidence, 32 cases are being brought to court.
The charges were filed with the Grand Economic Criminal Chamber of the Osnabrück Regional Court, which is currently considering opening the main proceedings.