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EU Tax Authorities To Increase Cooperation Over VAT Fraud

by Jason Gorringe,, London

23 February 2007

European law enforcement and tax authorities on Wednesday pledged greater cooperation, and agreed practical ways to jointly fight criminal attacks on the VAT system.

UK Paymaster General Dawn Primarolo addressed representatives from across the European Union at a summit hosted by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) earlier this week.

Ms Primarolo observed that:

"Missing trader fraud is an outright attack by organised criminals on the European VAT system. It is not simply a problem for one particular country, it is EU-wide and threatens the efficient management of our public finances and, as with all serious crime, has significant impact on our communities. Those behind the fraud operate across borders; the proceeds of this crime are laundered internationally. Cooperation with our EU and international partners therefore continues to be at the forefront of our strategy."

She continued:

"The UK recognises the need to improve our ability to share intelligence and work together on criminal interventions. And, where appropriate, we need to share the evidence gathered through criminal investigations to support civil actions that will prevent the fraudsters having access to the proceeds of their crimes."

"We have a shared agenda to tackle the organised crime groups behind carousel fraud, and to reduce the economic and social costs of their crimes. The UK is committed to working with our European partners to tackle this."

"The summit rightly recognised the vital importance of using both civil and criminal approaches to tackling MTIC fraud. I particularly welcome the support given by Member States at the conference to a European-wide threat assessment to be delivered by Europol."

Following Wednesday's summit, it emerged that in order to improve the EU's response to VAT fraud:

  • There will be designated contact points with each Member State on criminal and civil investigations;
  • Member States will exchange information better and faster;
  • Member States must develop a common approach to civil interventions under EU VAT law and to improve the quality and speed of response; and
  • Europol will develop a MTIC fraud threat assessment to support prioritisation and targeting of criminal interventions.

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