Second U.S. arrest in Miami case

OLAF /10/09 Brussels, 1 October 2010

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) announced today that a second suspect in the so-called Miami Case has been arrested and indicted in the United States of America for his alleged part in smuggling hundreds of millions of cigarettes from the Port of Miami into the EU.

The arrest came as a result of intensive cooperation between OLAF and law enforcement authorities in several Member States and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (U.S. ICE) and the U.S. Department of Justice. In a news release from the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida, Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney, thanked the European Union Anti-Fraud Office for their outstanding contribution to the investigation.

The acting Director-General of OLAF, Mr Nicholas Ilett, said: "This is the arrest of a second principal suspect in the U.S. in the Miami Case, which has led to significant financial losses to the European Union and Member States' budgets. I would like to thank the U.S. ICE and the U.S. Department of Justice for their excellent cooperation and all my OLAF colleagues for the successful work that has resulted in this arrest".

The suspect was indicted by a grand jury in the Southern District of Florida and subsequently arrested last week by special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. The indictment alleges that the suspect arranged for the purchase of hundreds of millions of cigarettes which were then smuggled from the Port of Miami into the EU. OLAF estimates that the alleged evasion of customs duties and taxes may have amounted to approximately €30 million.

The Miami Case

The Miami Case is a major international cigarette smuggling case which was coordinated by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) following a request for assistance from Irish Customs after the seizure of six containers of cigarettes mis-declared as "furniture" in Ireland. A subsequent EU mission to Miami by OLAF and Irish agents quickly revealed large-scale cigarette smuggling into several EU countries with estimated losses of approximately €100 million.

The investigation has spanned nine Member States (Ireland, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) and seven third countries (the U.S.A., Canada, Chile, Uruguay, Panama, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates). The case has led to the seizure of 43 million cigarettes and 11 arrests in the EU.

In February 2010, Roman Vidal was arrested, charged and sentenced to two years' imprisonment for his participation in smuggling cigarettes from Miami into several EU countries by the Court in the Southern District of Florida. In addition, he was ordered to pay $1.5 million in restitution to the EU.

Pavel BOĊ˜KOVEC
Head of Unit Spokesman, Communication, Public Relations
European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)
Rue Joseph II, 30 B-1049 Brussels (Belgium)
Phone: +32 2 296 72 00
Fax: +32 2 2998101
E-mail: olaf-press@ec.europa.eu

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