Danish VAT food fraud funded Spanish militant cell: report

The cell had €8 million through the scheme since 2005. (File/Reuters)
Updated 07 May 2019
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Danish VAT food fraud funded Spanish militant cell: report

MADRID: A Spanish militant cell funded itself through tax fraud on chicken, cheese and chocolate sold in Denmark, according to an investigation published Tuesday led by non-profit European newsroom Correctiv.
The cell had raised at least eight million euros ($9 million) through the scheme since 2005 and spent it sending 24 Moroccans and two Spaniards to Syria, Mali and Libya to fight for Daesh, said online newspaper El Confidencial, a Correctiv member.
Six members of the cell based in Melilla, a speck of Spanish territory on the north coast of Africa, were arrested in 2014, a spokesman for the Guardia Civil police force told AFP.
A judicial investigation into the group’s activities is still underway, he added.
Through contacts with militants in Denmark, the group formed ties with 42 mainly Danish firms and managed to put its members or supporters in senior company positions over the years, according to the El Confidencial report.
The cell used loopholes in European law to not pay value-added tax (VAT) on the food products sold by these firms, using a complex network of shell companies.
VAT fraud sees criminal groups embezzle 50 billion euros a year intended for state coffers in the European Union, said Correctiv, a collective of 42 European media outlets.


Trump briefed on missile strike in Saudi Arabia: White House

Updated 53 min 58 sec ago
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Trump briefed on missile strike in Saudi Arabia: White House

  • White House official said they are closely monitoring the situation
  • Houthi militants said they attacked a power station in Saudi Jizan province

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has been briefed about a missile strike on Saudi Arabia, the White House said Thursday, after Houthi militia claimed an attack on a power station in the kingdom’s south.
“The president has been briefed on the reports of a missile strike in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and continuing to consult with our partners and allies.”
There was no immediate confirmation of the attack from Saudi authorities.
Late Wednesday, Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi militants said they struck a power station in southern Jizan province, according to the group’s Al-Masirah TV.
Earlier on Wednesday, a Saudi-led military coalition fighting the militia said a Houthi drone was intercepted over Yemeni airspace.
Last week, a Houthi missile attack on the international airport in southern Abha city left 26 civilians wounded, drawing promises of “stern action” from the coalition.
Human Rights Watch denounced last week’s strike as an apparent “war crime,” urging the Houthis to immediately stop all attacks on civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.
The attacks come amid heightened regional tensions with Iran, which Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused of arming the militia with sophisticated weapons. Tehran denies the charge.
Following recent Houthi attacks, Saudi state media has reported the coalition was intensifying its air raids on the militia’s positions in the northern Yemeni province of Hajjah and the Houthi-held capital Sanaa.
The coalition intervened in support of the Yemeni government in 2015 when President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into Saudi exile as the militants closed in on his last remaining territory in and around second city Aden.
The conflict has triggered what the UN describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 24 million Yemenis — more than two-thirds of the population — in need of aid.