ORGANIZED BY THE EUROPEAN ANTI-FRAUD OFFICE (OLAF), THE ANNUAL TASK GROUP CIGARETTES MEETING FOR 2000 IN VISBY, SWEDEN

Press Release OLAF/09/2000, 9 November 2000

The phenomenon of cigarette smuggling into the EU is strongly linked to actions by organised criminal rings. Its importance is demonstrated by the quantity of seizures of contraband cigarettes made by the Member States. The annual Task Group Cigarettes meeting, organized by the European Anti-Fraud Office, will be held in Visby, Sweden from 9 to 11 November 2000. The purpose: to discuss operational measures undertaken in the last year in the fight against cigarette smuggling into the EU and to formulate plans for initiatives/actions for the coming year.

The European Anti-Fraud Office estimates that losses to the Community in own resources and to Members States' national revenues run to several billion Euro per year.

In response to the growing problem of cigarette smuggling into the European Union, the European Commission created a "Task Group Cigarettes" in late 1994.

However, cigarette smuggling into the European Union is still a major problem and, in 1999 the authorities in the Member States seized approximately 570,000 master cases of cigarettes which were in the process of being illegally introduced into the EU (1 master case = 10,000 cigarettes - 1 container of cigarettes = 1.000 master cases of cigarettes = 10.000.000 cigarettes = around 1.000.000 EURO in Custom duties, VAT and excise. 25% of the above mentioned 1.000.000 EURO are destined for the Community budget like own resources).

The Task Group Cigarettes comprises agents in the European Anti-Fraud Office and agents from the relevant anti-fraud services in the Member States.

Since 1995, an annual Task Group Cigarettes meeting has been held at different locations in the European Union.

This year the annual Task Group Cigarettes meeting will be held in Visby, Sweden from 9 to 11 November 2000. Participants at this meeting will include agents from the Task Group Cigarettes from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and experts in the fight against cigarette smuggling from the relevant services in the Member States.

The purpose of this year's meeting is to discuss operational measures undertaken in the last year in the fight against cigarette smuggling into the EU and to formulate plans for initiatives/actions for the coming year.

Mr Alessandro Butticé
Spokesman of the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF)
Tel : +32 (0)2 296.5425
Fax: +32 (0)2 299.8101

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