Yesterday, the court in Overijssel (location Zwolle) involved a 52-year-old woman from the eastern Netherlands who is suspected by the Public Prosecutor’s office (OM) of laundering more than 3.2 million euros and (co -) committing forgery in writing several times in the period from March 6, 2009 to april 4, 2017. The OM demanded an unconditional prison sentence of 36 months.
Hidden assets abroad

This case arises from the so-called DCC project of the tax authorities, which looks at payments in the Netherlands with foreign debit and credit cards. The aim of this project is to trace, trace and return to the Dutch treasury the existence and extent of Dutch assets hidden abroad. The case that was dealt with yesterday has come to a successful conclusion thanks to the cooperation of FIOD and Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) set up for this purpose. According to it, for the first time in the history of HMRC in the United Kingdom (UK).

Five VISA cards, foreign bank accounts and unexplained spending

The investigation involved five VISA cards, belonging to the suspect and her now deceased husband, two of which were linked to accounts in Switzerland and three linked to an account in the United Kingdom (UK). With the VISA cards, at least 338 cash withdrawals were made within a certain period. The nature of the expenditure showed that the users of the cards lived wholly or largely in the Netherlands while, according to the data of the tax authorities, they lived abroad. The expenses could not be declared with their declared income and assets to the tax authorities in the Netherlands and in the UK.

In addition to the defendant and her husband, two English legal entities were also identified as suspects. The defendant was the sole director of one of the legal entities, an English company in Manchester. Through a Dutch so-called’ holding company’, it also turned out to be the sole shareholder. This company, originally Dutch, had a Dutch business bank account, from which large amounts were debited to two companies in Liechtenstein.

At the end of 2016, a JIT was started with the English HMRC. HMRC has been investigating possible criminal offences with the suspect’s Manchester company. The FIOD, meanwhile, focused primarily on the laundering of the funds obtained from it, which, according to the OM, were deposited in Liechtenstein.

Findings of Investigation and accusations

The investigation showed that in the years 2009-2012, more than 3.2 million euros were transferred from the Manchester company to two companies in Liechtenstein using fake invoices. Even after 2012, large withdrawals are visible through Dutch and English private accounts of the defendant and her husband. The company was put under management in 2015 and went bankrupt in October 2016. The OM accuses the defendant of draining the Manchester company financially and laundering the proceeds via a web of two Liechtenstein entities and several bank accounts. “With 96 false invoices, she wanted to hide that.”, said the officer.

According to the OM, the suspect is also behind the 2 Liechtenstein companies. They had, according to the officer, behind the scenes control over those sums of money taken away. What exactly happened to the money in Liechtenstein is not known, but on the Dutch and English bank accounts, the FIOD and HMRC saw credits from accounts from Liechtenstein. In that way, according to the OM, a large part of that money ended up back with her and her husband via via.

And that money, according to the prosecutor’s office, was partly issued via the VISA cards, partly withdrawn in cash and partly spent on all kinds of private matters such as the purchase of boats, cars, land, mortgage, maintenance of House and garden and horses. Because this money was obtained through crime, the OM charged this as money laundering.

In the UK, the defendant has received various tax surcharges as well as fines (in private and for the company) from the tax authorities because the defendant incorrectly deducted the false invoices as costs in the company. In the Netherlands, she is not prosecuted for this. The OM believes that the money did not come from the tax evasion, but the unlawful withdrawals to the Manchester company. The husband of the accused died in the course of 2021.

“In total, around 3.2 million euros have been removed from the company in four years. That money ended up with the defendant in private via a web of 33 accounts at home and abroad and was spent by her and her husband on all kinds of things. She is being prosecuted for using the false invoices to the company and laundering that money,” the officer said. An unconditional prison sentence of 36 months is therefore appropriate for the officer here.

The court will rule on November 17, 2022.

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