IVA scam ‘in the open’

COIMBRA Polícia Judiciária (PJ) recently dismantled a fraud operation, known as ‘Step by Step’, involving the issuing of illegal facturas. It is believed 32 people, linked to the same construction company, are suspected of giving out illegal facturas throughout the whole of Portugal. So far, 16 of them have been arrested.

“We think that this operation has deprived the Portuguese government of around 6.5 million euros in total,” explained José Mouraz Lopes, director of the national sector of the PJ. He added: “These numbers may still rise, because we have not yet analysed the other million facturas we believe to have been forged.”

The construction company’s head office in Coimbra, containing the missing facturas, was searched by a total of 50 inspectors, accompanied by several financial experts, over the course of three days. According to Lopes, the investigation has been ongoing since the end of last year. “But we are finally getting somewhere now and we are reaching the end of our investigation,” he explained.

In a separate incident, Leiria PJ arrested 13 people between the ages of 20 and 50, with businesses in Alcobaça, Lisbon and Porto, all linked to the tourist industry, for the same fraud crime.