The Hague, 08 July 2010
Nine people arrested in farmers’ fraud case
On 05 July, the Dutch Social Intelligence and Investigation Service (SIOD), under the direction of the National Prosecution Service for Serious Fraud and Environmental Crime (Functioneel Parket), arrested nine people in a case involving money laundering, false papers and membership in a criminal organisation. The arrests were made in connection with an investigation into a group of farmers in the provinces of North Brabant and Limburg in the Netherlands.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) suspects the farmers of laundering tens of millions of euros through the use of a false business construction. The SIOD arrested the nine suspects. In total, 225 criminal investigators were involved, as well as tax inspectors and national police. Related to the Dutch investigations, Letters of Request were sent to, and executed in, Poland, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Belgium, Denmark, France and Switzerland. Arrests have been made only in the Netherlands, but records have been requested and money seized in all the involved countries.
The farmers are major suppliers of strawberries, raspberries, asparagus, mushrooms and other fruits and vegetables. They sell the harvest on paper to a fictitious company, which arranges for Polish workers to be used illegally to harvest the produce in the Netherlands. The harvest is then auctioned and delivered to consumers. This false business practice allows the farmers to deceive the Dutch fiscal authorities and deprives the Polish workers of social security benefits.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office has named the intermediary, who is not a farmer, and possibly supplies the cheap Polish labourers, as the main suspect.
The teams are investigating the homes and business premises of farmers in Beek, Veghel, Aarle-Rixtel, Lierop, Hernen, Milheeze, Nuenen, Kelpen-Oler, Donkerbroek, Mierlo, Someren, Ridderkerk, Mariaheide and Barendrecht. Company files, computers, automobiles and an airplane, and several properties and bank records of the suspects, were seized.
The SIOD took action on the basis of information from the Dutch Tax Authority, which informed the SIOD that Dutch farmers were using automobiles registered abroad.
To achieve this coherent and well co-ordinated cross-border action, meetings and a co-ordination meeting at Eurojust with investigators and prosecutors from the involved countries took place to co-ordinate the gathering of evidence, seizing of assets and arrests.
After the successful action, Mr Arend Vast, National Member for the Netherlands, commented: “This case is, once again, a fine example of Eurojust’s ability to bring together a complex investigation with different legal structures involving law enforcement and prosecuting bodies and develop and execute a common approach in an effective way.”
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