EU intercepts smuggling of 70 mln cigarettes

08:21, April 12, 2011      

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European Union (EU) investigators had intercepted smuggling of 70 million cigarettes in Lithuania, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) said on Monday.

Nine people had been arrested in Lithuania in a criminal investigation. They were detained for three months by the Lithuanian courts pending further investigations.

The probe, involving law enforcement authorities in Lithuania, Poland and Germany, resulted in the seizure of almost 70 million cigarettes, preventing losses of 6 million euros (8.7 million U.S. dollars) to the European taxpayer, OLAF said in a statement.

All of the cigarettes seized in this investigation were smuggled from Russia and Ukraine.

"This is a great result and I would like to congratulate the investigation team, particularly the Lithuanian Customs who initiated this investigation," said 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," he added.

Financial losses to the EU and member states' budgets as a result of cigarette smuggling are estimated to be 10 billion euros (14.4 billion U.S. dollars) a year.

Source: Xinhua
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