Second major waste and recycled metal trade fraud of 2021 revealed

Italian police have broken up a complex money laundering operation and an illegal metal recycling business that had enabled criminals to transfer huge amounts of illicit cash between Italy and China according to the Reuters news agency.

The report follows news that in 15 people were arrested earlier this year in Italy and Slovakia for their suspected involvement in an illegal trafficking of metal waste operation involving a string of fictitious companies in Slovakia, Hungary, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, China and Malaysia.

China connection

In the case led by Italian police the suspects made metal appear legitimate by using companies in the Czech Republic and Slovenia to produce false documents showing the metal had been acquired in China.

To make these documents look authentic, they sent some €150 million euros in deposits to Chinese banks in what appeared to be payments.

In reality no Chinese metal was traded and the alleged fraudsters sold scrap copper, brass and aluminium and other metals from various sources to evade environmental regulations and estimated taxes of €200 million (US$363 million).

Fake documents

In the earlier case reported in March by the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust), the Dutch-based EU agency that coordinates investigations of serious cross-border crime in Europe and beyond said it worked with investigators in Italy, Slovakia and Hungary to disrupt a €130 million fraud in the waste metal trade.

The agency says 15 suspects were arrested in Italy and Slovakia for the illegal trafficking of metal waste, money laundering and the issuance of fake invoices and documents.

International network

The suspects allegedly bought and sold waste metal since 2015, which is illegal according to EU legislation. They produced false certificates and invoices, pretending the waste was scrap metal, which is allowed for trade if declarations of conformity are provided.

Fake certificates, declarations and invoices were provided via a string of fictitious companies in Slovakia, Hungary, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, China and Malaysia.

Abnormal transactions

These false invoices enabled the purchase of the metal ‘off the books’, pretending it had come from abroad.

Investigations into the illegal operations started in 2018, following a suspicious transaction between a company in Slovakia and an enterprise in Turin, which allegedly involved abnormal amounts of money.


Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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