Massive VAT fraud discovered: false invoices for over 200 million euros on IT products

(To GdF)

As part of the operation called "CARRY ON SELL", the financiers of the provincial command, following extensive investigations coordinated by the deputy prosecutor Francesco Caleca and by Dr. Elena Caruso of the public prosecutor of Bologna, carried out a preventive seizure decree issued by the judge for preliminary investigations for the total amount of 32 million euros relating to cash, bank balances, real estate and company shares in the provinces of Bologna, Modena, Terni and Sassari.

The precautionary measure comes at the end of complex investigative activities conducted by the economic-financial police unit of Bologna and begun in 2020 which originate from tax audits carried out against four Bolognese companies operating in the wholesale marketing of IT products.

The investigations, developed through company and home access, surveys and acquisition of tax and IT documentation, shed light on a "carousel" fraud whose criminal scheme, between 2016 and 2019, would have allowed VAT evasion of 44 million euros, taking advantage of the EU legislation on intra-community transactions, which are "non-taxable" for VAT purposes.

The fraud system, conceived and implemented by a forty-five-year-old from Terni, permanently residing in Bologna, saw the involvement of 46 companies, mostly total tax evaders, located in Emilia Romagna and the rest of Northern Italy.

The perpetrator of the fraud had put his own nominees in charge of several companies with the task of buying IT products from a Polish company without applying VAT. The goods were then sold, only "securitized" and below cost, to further companies created specifically to interpose passages and economic subjects in the sales chain so as to make the identification of the illicit scheme and those responsible more complex.

The fraudulent mechanism allowed total tax evasion by the companies involved, which, in addition to not paying VAT and not submitting any tax returns, were made to cease after a few months of "activity" to be promptly replaced. The IT products, sold at very competitive prices to the Bolognese companies, were marketed in this way on line generating significant profits and undue tax advantages both in terms of tax savings and large VAT credits.

The outcome of the investigations made it possible to denounce 63 subjects responsible, for various reasons, for the tax crimes of omitted payment of VAT, issuing and using invoices for non-existent transactions, omitted presentation of tax returns, crimes partly committed in the Bologna area and partly in other Italian regions.

For the province of Bologna alone, a series of false invoices was reconstructed, the use of which in the declaration, for 210 million euro, led the local public prosecutor's office to serve 10 notices of conclusion of the investigations to the perpetrator of the fraud and to the legal representatives of the companies operating in the Bologna area, contesting crimes of issuing and using invoices for non-existent operations for which penalties of up to 8 years' imprisonment.

The action carried out demonstrates, once again, the commitment of the Guardia di Finanza in the fight against VAT fraud and more generally against tax evasion which constitutes a serious obstacle to economic development because it distorts competition and the allocation of resources , undermines the relationship of trust between citizens and the State and penalizes fairness, subtracting spaces for intervention in favor of the weakest social groups. Hence the importance of the "surgical" action carried out by the Guardia di Finanza against total tax evaders and fraudsters.