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

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.


Taliban revoke ban on Red Cross, provide security guarantees

Updated 2 min 46 sec ago

Taliban revoke ban on Red Cross, provide security guarantees

  • Taliban leaders imposed a ban on the ICRC and the WHO in April saying the organizations were carrying out ‘suspicious’ activities
  • ICRC has been providing medical support in Afghanistan for more than 30 years
KABUL: The Taliban on Sunday revoked their ban on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Afghanistan and gave a guarantee of security for its staff doing humanitarian work in areas under their control.
Taliban leaders imposed a ban on the ICRC and the World Health Organization (WHO) in April saying the organizations were carrying out “suspicious” activities during vaccinations campaigns and not sticking to their declared missions.
“The Islamic Emirate restores the former security guarantees to ICRC in Afghanistan and instructs all mujahideen to pave the way for ICRC activities and be mindful of security to this committee’s workers and equipment,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement.
The Taliban refer to themselves as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The spokesman did not refer to the WHO in his statement.
Officials at ICRC and WHO in Kabul were not immediately available for comment.
The WHO has been carrying out a vaccination campaign in Afghanistan, one of the last countries in the world where polio is endemic. The ICRC has been providing medical support for more than 30 years.
Aid groups operating in Afghanistan stress that they do not take sides.
The ICRC in particular is known for its strict neutrality in conflicts.
It operates in Taliban-controlled areas with a guarantee of safety and helps to repatriate bodies from both sides after fighting between the militants and the Afghan army.
The Taliban control or contest more than half of Afghanistan’s 410 Afghan districts.