Tax-fraud gang dealing in fuel infiltrated

A CRIMINAL gang that traded in motor fuels, including light fuel oils and petroleum has been infiltrated, Interior Minister Vladimír Palko told journalists on June 29.

Palko said that a total of 81 people face various charges, 46 have been prosecuted and are being held in custody, and a judge will decide on the custody for an additional eight suspects in the upcoming days, the private news agency SITA wrote.

The police are searching for another six group members, including the group leader who is a Slovak citizen.

Palko assumes that the gang leader has been hiding abroad and an international warrant will be issued for his arrest.

The case has been in police hands since 2001. Although documented damages caused by this fraud amount to Sk251 million (€6.3 million), the real damage is estimated at as much as Sk1.5 billion (€37.5 million).

Businessmen, customs officers, police officers, one former Slovak intelligence service agent, and one former member of the Federal Security Information Service are among the suspects.

According to Police Vic-President Jaroslav Spišiak, the complicated network of more than 200 companies had seven levels. At the lowest there were so called white horses: businessmen whose companies registered under their own names. Some of them are now missing.

At the highest two levels were experts in mixing light fuel oils and diesel, investors who secured the entry capital and the "force that was protecting the group", as Spišiak described it.

On June 29, police detained 11 people suspected of belonging to the group's branch in eastern Slovakia. All of them are charged with establishing and supporting a criminal group and other criminal acts.

The gang was forging tax and accounting documents where diesel was being documented as light heating oil.

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