SDOE traces customs fraud

An investigation by the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) has led to the discovery of large-scale illegal trade and customs fraud believed to have deprived the Greek state of millions of euros.

In one of its biggest recent breakthroughs, SDOE traced a warehouse in Gerakas, northeast of Athens, which is purported to have loaded 16 containers full of cigarettes onto a ship at the port of Elefsina in November 2010 but actually issued bogus invoices while distributing millions of packets of contraband cigarettes, robbing the state of some 15 million euros in unpaid customs charges and tariffs.

The Gerakas raid was carried out following a tip-off from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) by SDOE officers who indicated that customs officials had colluded in the scam. One official allegedly claimed to have registered the nonexistent containers being loaded onto the Maja.

He and other suspected ring members are the focus of a probe currently being handled by financial prosecutor Grigoris Peponis.

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