Counterfeit money ring busted

  • 2006-07-10
  • By TBT staff

TALLINN - Estonian tax officials have busted a counterfeit money press that was allegedly run as a tax avoidance scheme by local businessmen.
Last week the Tax and Customs Board reported it had raided a fake money factory in the central city of Tartu., and had charged a number of businessmen with fraud and tax related crimes.
Inspectors carried out searches in a number of offices, looking for evidence of the VAT-evasion scheme.
Ten people remain in custody in the Tartu County Court awaiting prosecution.
The Public Prosecutor's office told the Baltic News Service that the companies involved in the scheme were "well known" businesses operating in construction and forestry.
Senior prosecutor Kaire Hanilene alleged the ten people set up several shell companies, producing bills on non-existing deals with phantom companies.
"This way companies could present false information in their tax returns and to prevent, according to preliminary suspicions, the payment of more than 12 million kroons of taxes in 2005-2006," the prosecutor said.
But on the basis of electronic and hard copy evidence seized during the searches it is possible to conclude that the actual sum of unpaid taxes may amount to hundreds of millions of kroons.