The European Union and Italian authorities are investigating a suspected tax fraud by Chinese criminals, who are reportedly importing goods through Greece’s largest port of Piraeus, which is considered a trade gateway between China and Europe.
As Fabio Botto, member of the Italian Central Anti-fraud Office’s special investigative unit, was cited as saying by Reuters, the VAT is evaded resulting in serious damages to the community. He also added that the suspected fraud has cost Italy millions of euros in unpaid VAT. The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is also working with Italy on the investigation.
Greece’s Financial Crime Unit is separately investigating a suspected tax fraud about Chinese goods imported via Piraeus. The Greek unit has not had much communication with Italy and the EU and has not been informed about their investigation, Reuters reported.
Chinese COSCO owns the majority of Piraeus from 2016, and aims to transform it into a gateway to Europe, under China’s Belt and Road initiative. COSCO stated that it strictly follows local and international laws and operates legally.
Mr. Botto informed that the investigations do not have any evidence of any wrongdoing by the Piraeus Port Authority (PPA). As PPA said it is not responsible for conducting checks for illegal activities. It also added that it has not received any information about criminal groups in the Port of Piraeus and it would alert authorities if it did. Moreover, PPA noted that it takes all necessary measures to ensure the customs supervision of goods.
These investigations come at a time when the US are reportedly concerned about a takeover by COSCO, regarding a large container terminal in Long Beach, California. The terminal is part of COSCO’s plan to buy the shipping company Orient Overseas International.
Leave a Reply