EU authorities in the Netherlands, Spain and Cyprus moved on 10 homes and businesses yesterday and seized goods, including an automobile, watches, cash and documents, in what is being described as part of a money-laundering investigation.
News of the action came on in a statement on the Eurojust website and in some local publications, including the Cyprus Mail.
Eurojust is the European Union’s judicial cooperation body, which coordinates pan-European operations and which is based in the Hague.
According to the Eurojust statement, yesterday’s “coordinated action” by Dutch, Spanish and Cypriot judicial and law enforcement authorities also saw “several” witnesses being interviewed, and an undisclosed number of “suspects” who have been charged with having undeclared assets from 2009 to the present worth more than €m.
Eurojust said it had coordinated the operation from the Hague, and stressed that it had ensured “proper coordination at [the] EU level of the national investigations, and full legal and operational assistance to all [the] national authorities” who had been involved.
“These joint operations are the result of investigations into money laundering and tax fraud commenced by the Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD),” the statement said.
It noted that the Dutch authorities had been alerted to the potential failure to declare assets by a discrepancy between the deposits and withdrawals on the part of certain of the individuals at the centre of the investigation – based on their debit and credit card records – and their lawfully acquired and reported income.
“The investigations detected that the suspects used debit and credit cards issued abroad and linked to foreign bank accounts involving many Dutch and international companies to hide the sources of the funds,” the Eurojust statement said.
“Anyone who does not declare foreign capital can be subject to a criminal investigation.”
In Cyprus, the Cyprus Mail quoted a police source as saying that police officers there had raided the addresses of two offshore companies in Limassol, as well as another property, and that two Dutch officers also took part in the Limassol operation.
According to the Mail, the Cypriot financial crime unit had been looking “for one man whom they eventually tracked down at a third location that wasn’t included on the original search warrants”.
The man was not arrested but he is expected to be questioned by police on Thursday, the paper said, adding that computers, documents and memory sticks had been seized.