LONDON — 10 people have been arrested for their roles in an international smuggling ring which laundered close to €25 million (£21.2 million, $US26.4 million) worth of gold.
According to a statement from Eurojust — an EU agency “dealing with judicial co-operation in criminal matters” — an operation led by Italy’s Guardia di Finanza and assisted by Hungarian and Slovenian authorities has led to numerous arrests related to laundering across the three nations.
“The group members are accused of being part of a criminal organisation involved in gold laundering in Italy, Hungary and Slovenia,” Eurojust’s statement said.
The people were involved in a scheme where unspecified “gold items” were stolen in Italy, before being melted down and turned into gold bars, which were then sold on Hungary’s official gold market “by a Hungarian company that issued fictitious sales invoices to a second Italian enterprise,” according to Eurojust.
One suspect remains at large after the operation, in which authorities seized €9 million worth of assets, including around €800,000 worth of gold, €200,00 in cash, and several “high-value cars.”
“This case is unique. In the framework of one investigation, the crimes from which the proceeds were derived, the nature and extent of the money laundering activities, and the investment of proceeds of crime were uncovered at the same time as a result of a complex cross-border investigation,” Filippo Spiezia, Italy’s national member of Eurojust said in a statement.
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