Anti-corruption prosecutors charge 36 defendants with €2.5m tax evasion scheme

NEWS 21.07.2022 12:23
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Source: N1, Ilustracija

Croatia's anti-corruption prosecutors said on Thursday they had brought charges against 36 individuals and three companies for illegally siphoning at least 13.3 million kuna (€1.7m) and defrauding the government of 18.7 million kuna (€2.5m) in unpaid taxes, state agency Hina reported.

Without naming any suspects or companies involved, Uskok said that they have been charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, tax evasion, abuse of trust in business transactions, aiding and abetting alleged crimes, and money laundering.

However, the state agency Hina, citing undisclosed “unofficial sources,” reported that the criminal group was organized by two businessmen who controlled a dozen shell companies in a scheme which used these businesses as a front for siphoning money from other companies whose owners wanted to evade paying taxes.

Local media reported that one of the people involved is Ana Karamarko, the wife of the former head of the intelligence agency SOA, leader of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party, and former deputy prime minister, Tomislav Karamarko.

Jutarnji List daily said on Thursday that Ana Karamarko had confessed to evading paying taxes by using fake invoices. She had previously denied this crime. According to local media, she siphoned some 467,000 kuna (€62,000) from her own consulting business via fake invoices, which allowed her to dodge 146,000 kuna (€19,500) in taxes.

In the scheme, shell companies would apparently issue invoices for non-existing jobs and services, receive the money from the owners of real companies, and then pay them back in cash, while retaining a small commission. According to investigators, from April 2018 to June 2018, the organizers of the criminal group invested a portion of their illegal earnings of over 3 million kuna (€400,000) in purchasing office space in Zagreb.

(€1 = 7.50 kuna)

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