Cigarette smugglers in Lithuania caught with 70 million cigarettes

OLAF /11/05 Brussels, 11 April 2011

Nine people have been arrested in Lithuania in a criminal investigation which the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has been coordinating for over a year. The investigation, involving law enforcement authorities in Lithuania, Poland and Germany, resulted in the seizure of almost 70 million cigarettes, preventing losses of €6 million to the European taxpayer.

“This is a great result and I would like to congratulate the investigation team, particularly the Lithuanian Customs who initiated this investigation,” said Mr Giovanni Kessler, Director General of OLAF. “Coordinated international cooperation is the key to success, as this case clearly demonstrates. Significant financial losses have been prevented and OLAF will continue to support this investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice."

The nine suspects have been detained for three months by the Lithuanian courts pending further investigations. All of the cigarettes seized in this investigation were smuggled from Russia and Ukraine.

Financial losses to the EU and Member States’ budgets as a result of cigarette smuggling are estimated to be €10 billion a year.

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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