Carousel fraud success

A suspected e165m fraud has been disrupted during a pioneering joint UK and German operation against VAT carousel fraud.
Codenamed ‘Operation Sunrise’, mixed teams of UK and German customs officers were deployed on the Swiss-German border and at Frankfurt airport to gather intelligence about the movement of goods into the European Union.

They seized more than 30,000 mobiles telephones which are being checked against HM Revenue & Customs’ Nemesis database. To date, more than 1.6m unique identifier numbers have been recorded on this system.

Operation Sunrise was the first of its kind but Carole Upshall, HMRC Detection Senior Manager, expects more of these joint operations. “Tracking those commodities that are to be used to make fraudulent VAT claims across EU borders is only one element in our anti-MTIC strategy but it is an excellent example of the kind of international co-operation that will enable us to tackle carousel fraud quickly and effectively.”
MTIC – Missing Trader Intra-Community – fraud is a Europe-wide problem. In this case the cross-border import activity certainly looked suspicious: in 2005 mobile telephones to the value of e2.1bn were imported into Germany from Switzerland, despite there being nowhere in Switzerland to manufacture the things and no obvious commercial reason for such trade.
MTIC fraud is estimated to have cost the UK exchequer between £1.1bn and £1.9bn in stolen VAT revenues in 2004-05.
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