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News / Eurojust Took Action Against A €2 Billion Money Laundering Via A Lithuania-Based Institution

Eurojust Took Action Against A €2 Billion Money Laundering Via A Lithuania-Based Institution

The policemen in three European countries on Tuesday arrested the mastermind of an online money-laundering activity believed to have done the transfer of up to two billion euros.

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Almost €2 billion worth of illicit funds were channeled through a financial institution located in Lithuania that provided money laundering services, disclosed by Investigators.

On Tuesday, 250 judicial representatives and cops across the three selected countries; Italy, Latvia, and Lithuania raided 55 sites where they detained 18 people including three main suspects among them– Eurojust stated.

Eurojust is the EU criminological agency for combating crimes, terrorism, and organized crime. It helps to pool law enforcement agencies and court officials throughout the EU and overseas when it is a question of prosecuting serious trans-border crime.

The Hague-based law agency said, that “since 2017 some two billion euros ($2.1 billion) has been laundered through a chain of shell companies across the world by the two chief suspects”.

Money Laundered By Criminal Institutions 

“The institution was providing money laundering services to thousands of criminals, by creating fake financial transactions via the net of companies that were overseen by the deceivers throughout the EU. It was established in Lithuania in 2016 by members of an Italian-based OCG, where they presented its consulting services on the Internet,” stated Eurojust.

The Organised Crime Gang- OCG generated considerable proceeds by engaging in a spectrum of economic crimes that included tax evasion, fake bankruptcy, cyber fraud, and drug trafficking. This institution was headed by the two major suspects residents of Lithuania and Latvia, now held in detention.

The defendants explained that laundered money was directly injected into the economies of Latvia and Lithuania via the purchase of properties and expensive cars.

“From the traced funds laundered by the same mechanism was EUR 15 million originated from illicit bonuses related to buildings granted by the Italian national authorities for insulation works, renovation, and other energy-saving measures,” a spokesperson claimed from the Eurojust HQ in the Hague.

“Actually, in these cases, there was no repair required, nor the buildings mentioned even exist or were not owned by anyone. The key person of this scam was a practicing tax consultant, who managed the idea of bonuses for 72 other people involved by will as well,” Eurojust stated.

In the same search operation, a third principal suspect was apprehended for allegedly frauding the Italian authorities of €5 million in public funds.  These funds were moved across a network of similar shell companies; headquartered on the EMI in Lithuania.

This led to a combined total of 55 raids and bank accounts and assets valued at €11.5 million were frozen. Both Europol and Eurojust contributed to the support and supervision of global operations.

Investigation Initiated In 2021

The Public Prosecutor’s Offices of Naples and Lecce in Italy started their investigations into the OCG in 2021. The counterparts in Latvia and Lithuania joined the investigations in 2022 as a result of mutual assistance by Eurojust.

A fast response of Latvian and Lithuanian authorities to any suspicious transactions resulted in the seizure of a massive sum of money, real estate properties, and luxury cars that were now confiscated. In 2022, the financial and criminal justice agencies in Lithuania had already discontinued the electronic payment entity.

Unstoppable Contributions Of Eurojust

In 2022, Eurojust supported the creation and financing of a joint investigation team between Europol and other international organizations. Then, they opened a coordination centre which was a support to the parallel operations simultaneously in the three countries.

Eurojust has organized more than eight working meetings to plan the concurrent operations of the Latvian, Italian, and Lithuanian authorities. Eurojust has also supported bringing back EUR 3 Million to Italy from Lithuania over the stolen public funds which have been blocked by the authorities.

Since January 2022, Europol—which is also situated in The Hague—has been assisting in the case. Together with national investigators, they have worked closely to reveal the scope and intricacy of the OCG’s operations.

Updates Views

Eurojust Vice-President and National Member for Lithuania, Ms. Margarita Šniutytė-Daugėlienė, National Member for Latvia, Ms. Dagmāra Skudra, and acting National Member for Italy, Mr. Aldo Ingangi, cooperatively stated: “the collaboration highlighted here emphasizes the significance of a coordinated and well-prepared strategy throughout Europe. It serves as a prime illustration of Eurojust’s efforts in cross-border judicial cooperation, demonstrating to criminal organizations – like the one addressed in this case – that boundaries do not limit our reach. Our commitment remains steadfast in working hand in hand to ensure justice prevails and combat fraudulent activities linked to public finances.”

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Published Date

February 28, 2024

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