European Attorney General calls for more human resources in Portugal

In an interview with the Lusa agency at the premises of the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) in Lisbon, Laura Kövesi pointed out that the four Portuguese magistrates who have the role of European Delegated Prosecutors are insufficient, despite the praise for the country's cooperation . The Romanian magistrate admitted that it was “obvious that the resources must be greater” and that it is necessary to preserve the specialization in the investigations of organized financial crime.

“We started with the minimum… when talking about resources, for example, we have two delegated prosecutors in Lisbon, two in Porto, and it is obvious that the number of prosecutors must be increased in the near future, due to the volume and the complexity of our business here in Portugal,” he said, also calling for a reorganization of the structure dedicated to Portugal.

Laura Kovesi cited the example of Operation Admiral – launched last week and which resulted in the arrest of 14 people in Portugal for the alleged practice of crimes of criminal association, tax evasion and money laundering. money, in a scheme that will have caused damage to the European Union of 2,2 billion euros - to argue that the organization "is the best tool available" to stop organized financial crime.

"Operation 'Admiral' has demonstrated that we have to work with specialized staff and that they have to be dedicated to the European Public Prosecutor's Office and to give priority to working on the files of the European Public Prosecutor's Office", he underlined, without forgetting to mention the concrete link of this entity with the life of European citizens, and the Portuguese in particular, noting the existence of an office in Lisbon, the Portuguese prosecutors, the application of national laws and the cases brought before the courts in Portugal.

On the fact that this investigation into a VAT fraud scheme originated in Portugal, where it will have caused damage of tens of millions of euros, the European Attorney General revealed that it was only " the tip of the iceberg" and acknowledged that the operation is still in its infancy, anticipating that "other cases will come, perhaps more complex and even more important".

“The operation was born in Portugal, but it shows that the authorities are ready to fight against this phenomenon, because without information there is no investigation, prosecution or trial and nothing can be recovered. It was important for the Portuguese tax authorities to identify the case and send it to the European Public Prosecutor's Office. The case originated in Portugal, but if we look at the locations where the crimes took place, we will see that it involved 35 countries,” he noted.

According to the European Chief Prosecutor, most of his cases — around 40% — relate to VAT fraud, but also include corruption, money laundering and conflict of interest situations relating to EU funds. However, VAT fraud is a priority, since its annual impact at European level is estimated at 50 billion euros.

“All these crimes went undetected. Most of the time, they have been studied separately, without putting all the points together and without an overall vision. This is why it is so important that we now have the European Public Prosecutor's Office, because we have a 'helicopter view' and we can understand all the links between criminal groups”, he concluded.


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