First charges for manipulating electronic cash registers

FRAUDS involving excessive VAT deductions are getting more scarce in Slovakia, but they are being replaced by systemic organised fraud based on the modification of software used by electronic cash registers.

Police Corps President Tibor GašparPolice Corps President Tibor Gašpar (Source: Sme)

VAT and income tax evasion in this field has reached €300-400 million, Financial Directorate president František Imrecze estimated, as quoted by the TASR newswire. The first two cases of charges for tax evasion in the form of modifying a program of a particular type of cash register have been pressed as part of the so-called Copperfield operation.

“Fraud with electronic cash registers is moving into the sphere of systemic organised fraud,” Imrecze said. “It’s organised by certain producers and some service organisations. It emerges in the fact that cash documentation isn’t recorded in a fiscal memory. A typical feature is that the Finance Ministry’s emblem on a receipt is fake”.

The first case in which charges were pressed involved the Bratislava V District Police Corps. “As part of a joint operation, one house search, two searches of business premises and two car searches were carried out,” Police Corps President Tibor Gašpar informed on March 11. “Two persons were charged. These were Daniela B., a representative of a business entity that was using cash registers, and Ivan M., a representative of a service organisation that helped to modify a cash register’s software so that a taxpayer could commit fraud in the form of tax evasion.”    

“The case was investigated at an expert level,” Gašpar stressed. “It’s a good signal, as we have declared that the [special anti-tax evasion team] tax cobra will be extended to lower levels also beyond the National Crime Agency and will also include specialised workers.” According to the police president, the project makes sense because it significantly boosts the state budget.

Daniela B., who is being prosecuted for the crime of tax evasion, could be sentenced to between four to ten years in prison, while Ivan M., who is charged with misrepresenting data in financial and commercial records, could be sentenced from three to eight years.

The Financial Directorate deployed 130 inspectors in the Copperfield operation. They checked 31 operational units and seized 25 electronic cash registers, each of which will undergo expert tests. The total financial damage caused by the 25 seized cash registers is estimated at around €4 million. The damage confirmed so far amounts to €80,000, the SITA newswire wrote. There are around 11,300 electronic cash registers in operation in Slovakia. The obligation to use them was introduced in the country as of March 1, 2009.

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