Tag Archives: fraud

Spain horsemeat sham

The Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil), supported by Europol, has dismantled an organised crime group selling horsemeat which was deemed unsuitable for human consumption. The criminal organisation – active in the province of Barcelona – falsified documents to support their illegal activities. Law enforcement also carried out searches in various horse stables in Catalonia.

Officers from the Spanish Environment Protection Service (SEPRONA) detected that the horsemeat unfit for human consumption on the market came from 300 horses slaughtered in slaughterhouses. The documents of more than 10 000 horses were checked during the searches. The operation resulted in the arrests of 15 suspects and the investigation of 13 others. The investigation led to the seizure of 185 falsified horse passports and the detection of 100 other horses uncompliant with food market regulations.

The members of the criminal network, active since 2015, falsified the horse passports in slaughterhouses and farms in the province of Barcelona. The seized false documents confirmed that the organised crime group could have been responsible for introducing meat from hundreds of slaughtered animals onto the market, which failed to comply with national and European regulations. The slaughterhouse, several livestock farms, cattle dealers and veterinarians were all involved in the criminal activities.

Spain: Cupid fraud for migrants

On 10 December 2019, the Spanish National Police (Policía Nacional), supported by Europol, dismantled an organised crime group involved in the facilitation of illegal immigration by arranging sham unmarried partnerships in Spain. The partnerships of convenience were set up to ensure legal permanent permits of residence for irregular migrants.

The operation led to 11 searches of properties and companies, 30 arrests and the seizures of a luxury car, over €10 000 in cash and a high number of documents. Solid evidence of facilitation of illegal immigration and document fraud was found during the searches.

The organised crime group recruited Spanish women willing to be part of unmarried partnerships. Non-EU migrants, wanting to migrate or formalise their stay in Europe, acquired similar rights of EU citizens through the fraudulent partnerships with the Spanish women. Each migrant had to pay between €8 000 and €12 000 for this service. The woman in these pretend partnerships were paid €3 000 for their “I do” as a pretend partner.

The members of this highly complex organised crime group owned several shell companies and were Moroccan and Spanish nationals. The women, also members of the crime group, were registered as employees in these companies. Their employment contracts allowed them to justify their revenues and gave the companies a legitimate legal appearance. A money laundering component was also detected during the investigation.

Europol provided coordination and analytical support and facilitated the information exchange. On the action day, Europol also deployed experts on-the-spot to cross-check operational information in real time against Europol’s databases and to provide technical expertise.

Artemidorus papyrus €2.75 million fraud

Artemidorus papyrus, papers that were considered of an extraordinary value after being attributed to ancient Greek geographer Artemidorus of Ephesus, is a forgery, according to research compiled in an investigation by Turin prosecutors, ANSA news agency sources said. The probe was into alleged fraud by Serop Simonian, who in 2004 managed to sell the piece to the €2.75 million  to the Compagnia San Paolo Art Foundation.
The large-scale fraud, however, will remain unpunished.
The prosecutors have requested the case be archived as the statute of limitations has expired.

Artemidorus papyrus (1st century CE) has been considered as an extraordinary document for many reasons. It consists in a ca. 2.5 m long piece of papyrus on which five columns of text appear, accompanied by the outline of a map –the only Greek map preserved on papyrus–, and two different sets of designs: a series of anatomical sketches and a collection of 41 animal figures with inscriptions informing about their names. The overlap of part of the text with a fragment of Artemidorus of Ephesus’ Geography (2nd century BCE) known through indirect tradition led scholars to identify the text on the papyrus, or at least part of it, as coming from Artemidorus and to call the whole piece as “Artemidorus papyrus”. Since 2006 the papyrus has been involved in a bitter polemic on its authenticity.




Russia protects senator-oligarch charged with fraud in France

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny commented on the scandal around the detention of Russian senator Suleiman Kerimov (51) in Nice, France. In his opinion, Paris did what Moscow had to do a long time ago.
Since 2008 Kerimov has been elected to represent the Republic of Dagestan in Russia’s parliament upper house. Navalny, who is leading the Anti-Corruption Fund recalled that for many years Kerimov was a member of the State Duma and the Federation Council, being an elected official, the category of citizens is prohibited to engage in business activities as incompatible with serving people of Russian Federation.  Nevertheless, Kerimov is often referred to as a successful acting businessman, appearing in Forbes. This year the publication estimated Kerimov worth $ 6.3 billion.
Navalny analyzed Kerimov’s declarations for the past four years and found that, despite impressive earnings from 12 million rubles to 109 million rubles a year, the businessman is almost a ‘beggar’ owning less than modest property, namely a tiny studio of ​​37.8 square meters, and one third of the share in another apartment of 53.5 square meters. The Anti-corruption Fund considers such data submitted by senator Kerimov as “obvious lies”.
Navalny recalled that in France Kerimov was accused of laundering funds, believing that these funds were originally stolen from Russia, now actively defending a individual, who violated Russian laws.
Russian prosecutor’s office and the Investigation Committee should be after Kerimov,  co-operating with French justice, but not defending him suggests Navalny, regretting that Kerimov was arrested in France, but not in Russia, as he should.
Russian senator Suleiman Kerimov was detained in Nice on November 20. He was charged with laundering money and evading taxes. The French authorities suspect Kerimov of creating a system of intermediaries and companies to purchase the villas at  Cote d’Azur. Furthermore the prices at which his real estates was acquired were too low and did not reflect the market value.
The Chairman of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko demands the immediate release of senator Kerimov, being indifferent to his money laundering activities.

EU: 9800 tonnes of food counterfeit seized

EUR 230 million worth of fake food and beverages seized in global OPSON operation targeting food fraud

Operation OPSON VI, the joint Europol-INTERPOL operation targeting counterfeit and substandard food and drink, as well as the organised crime networks behind this illicit trade, has resulted in the seizure of 9 800 tonnes, over 26.4 million litres, and 13 million units/items worth an estimated EUR 230 million of potentially harmful food and beverages ranging from every day products such as alcohol, mineral water, seasoning cubes, seafood and olive oil, to luxury goods such as caviar.

This year, 61 countries (21 EU Member States) took part in operation OPSON VI, which was carried out for the sixth time in a row and saw an increase in participating countries (57 countries in 2016). Each participating country implemented a national operational phase between 1 December 2016 to 31 March 2017, involving police, customs, national food regulatory bodies and partners from the private sector. More than 50 000 checks were carried out at shops, markets, airports, seaports and industrial estates.

“OPSON VI confirmed the threat that food fraud represents, as it affects all types of products and all regions of the world. In addition we saw some new trends such as counterfeit mineral water. Once again the good cooperation on a European and global level was paramount to disrupt the criminal gangs behind the illicit trade in counterfeit and unregulated food and drink,” said Chris Vansteenkiste, head of Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition – IPC3.

“This operation has once again shown that criminals will fake any type of food and drink with no thought to the human cost as long as they make a profit. Whilst thousands of counterfeit goods have been taken out of circulation, we continue to encourage the public to remain vigilant about the products they buy,” said Françoise Dorcier, Coordinator of INTERPOL’s Illicit Goods and Global Health Programme.

The annual operation coordinated by Europol and INTERPOL is supported by customs, police and national food regulatory bodies in addition to partners from the private sector. Since its first edition in 2011, the number of countries taking part in OPSON has grown every year.