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Police reveal 1.4-billion tax evasion in fuel deals

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Prague, Nov 13 (CTK) – The Kobra (Cobra) Czech special police unit fighting financial crime accused last week 18 people of a 1.4-billion-crown tax evasion in fuels trading, which has been one of the highest damage levels in similar deals, daily Pravo wrote Friday.

The accused were well versed in the police working methods and this is why it had been difficult and lengthy to uncover the group, anti-corruption police spokesman Jaroslav Ibehej said.

They attempted to legalise their financial profit from the criminal activities in a sophisticated way, he added.

All gang members, aged from 26 to 69 years, are prosecuted on suspicion of tax evasion and money laundering. If found guilty, they face up to ten years in prison, Ibehej said.

The gang was buying fuels in various EU member states and imported them to the Czech Republic in tanks. Though it did not pay VAT, it was selling the fuels to final consumers all over the country, the police said.

“The damage has been put at 1.4 billion crowns,” Ibehej told Pravo.

Within the Cobra action code-named Topaz, the police seized 30 million crowns from the suspects, probable crime profits. Further property seizures may follow, Ibehej said.

All accused are prosecuted without being taken into custody.

The specialised financial analytical section of the Finance Ministry has also participated in the investigation that is supervised by the Prague High State Attorney´s Office, Pravo writes.

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