Three men and a woman have been arrested following a year-long GNR investigation into an alleged scam that used immigrants to head-up companies that then closed, owing up to €5 million in taxes.
This is the bottom line of Operation Ouro Verde (green gold), which appears to have involved the illicit use of specially coloured diesel and been going on for “a number of years”.
Say reports today, most of the immigrants whose names were purportedly used to divert authorities’ attention have returned to their home countries and/ or have not been located.
One of the men arrested was discovered to have an arrest warrant out in his name “for similar crimes”, so is now in prison.
The others, including the woman, have been released on bail on condition that they report regularly into their local police station.
Elsewhere, a total of 34 search warrants saw swoops on homes and properties in nine districts – Faro, Beja, Évora, Setúbal, Santarém, Leiria, Coimbra, Viseu and Porto – and 14 people given ‘arguido’ status.
A number of items were ‘apprehended’ during the searches, including 28 vehicles, 15,200 litres of coloured diesel, €6,890 in cash, company stamps and documentation, computers, hard disks, credit cards, a firearm, 53 doses of cannabis and 18 doses of hashish.
But as to the nuts and bolts of this alleged scam, details are fairly vague.
“The suspects came to authorities’ attention when merchandise delivery vehicles were detected in the Algarve using coloured ‘marked’ diesel for the exclusive use of agricultural and forestry vehicles”, explains tabloid Correio da Manhã, citing Major Licínio Nunes of Faro’s GNR department of fiscal action.
Police “started to see a connection between the various companies” and the four people arrested, Major Licínio told the paper.
Operation Ouro Verde “lasted more than a year” and involved 116 GNR agents and almost 40 tax inspectors. More about it will become clear once the case gets to court.