Austrian police working with German authorities arrested a 55-year old Swiss man at Vienna airport on Dec. 16 who is suspected of money laundering and tax evasion linked to the EU carbon market, the Frankfurt prosecutors’ office said in a statement on Monday.
The individual was not named, but he is “strongly suspected of participating in a VAT carousel [fraud] … from August 2009 to April 2010 as a member of a gang”, the prosecutors said, adding that a total €125 million in tax had been evaded.
The accused is suspected of being “responsible in particular for the establishment and control of a very complex” chain of international bank accounts believed to have been used by the gang members to launder money, the prosecutors added.
The man had flown from Zurich to Vienna when he was arrested, and is awaiting extradition to Germany.
The prosecutors said two other suspects in the case are currently in custody.
They added that they continue to hunt two Pakistani nationals for whom international search warrants were issued in July 2014: 33-year-old Mobeen Iqbal and 36-year-old Ashraf Muhammad.
The men, who are thought to be now residing in Pakistan, are suspected of having evaded some €136 million in tax while operating a firm in the United Arab Emirates and “several bogus companies in Germany”.
In September, a British man arrested in Las Vegas in May 2014 was extradited to Germany from the US over his suspected role in the crime, and a 35-year old Briton suspected of participating in the same fraud turned himself in to German authorities.
German prosecutors this summer charged seven current Deutsche Bank employees and one former member of the bank’s staff over their suspected involvement in helping the bank’s clients evade taxes between Sep. 2009 and Feb. 2010. It is unclear if these charges are related.
So far, more than a dozen people across Europe have been jailed for committing VAT fraud in the EU carbon market – a number that is expected to rise as more cases go to trial over the next year or two.
By Mike Szabo – firstname.lastname@example.org