Skip to main content

EU warns UK-centered China import scamm mayshift to Europe's 'Silk Road'

Francesco Guarascio

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union anti-fraud investigators suspect Greece and Hungary may have become the main EU centers of a multi-million-euro scam involving imports of Chinese clothing and footwear that uses the infrastructure of China’s new “Silk Road”.

The large-scale fraud, which involves underdeclaring the value of imported goods to pay lower duties and sales taxes, was first uncovered in Britain, where it had gone on for years, prompting the European Commission this year to demand that London pay 2.7 billion euros ($3.1 billion) in lost customs duties to the EU budget.

Officials at the EU anti-fraud agency OLAF said they now suspected the scam could have shifted to Hungary and to the port of Piraeus in Athens, which has been majority-owned by China’s state-owned COSCO Shipping (601919.SS) since 2016.

Hungarian and Greek customs data show a surge of undervalued clothing and footwear imports from China over the past two years, OLAF officials told Reuters. They stressed that this trend had coincided with a drop in undervalued Chinese imports into Britain.

Customs duties in EU countries are a direct revenue for the bloc’s budget. They are collected by national authorities before being sent to Brussels.

“We are worried about this,” OLAF’s director for investigations Ernesto Bianchi told a news conference in Brussels on Wednesday, adding that monitoring of import flows would be enhanced.

Reuters exclusively reported in April that Italian authorities were investigating suspected import fraud by Chinese criminal gangs at Piraeus port, the largest in Greece..

COSCO SHIPPING Holdings Co Ltd5.93

601919.SSSHANGHAI STOCK EXCHANGE

-0.10(-1.66%)

601919.SS

Asked about the suspected fraud in April, COSCO Shipping said: “The company has in its global operations consistently and strictly followed local and international laws, and persevered to operate legally and compliantly.”

Hungarian and Greek customs authorities were not immediately available for comment.

China wants to transform the Greek port into its “gateway to Europe” as part of its $126 billion “Belt and Road” initiative, which envisions a new Silk Road of land and sea routes with trading partners.

Under the plan, a fast rail and land route would connect Athens to the Hungarian capital, Budapest, across the Balkans. That same route could have been used by traffickers to move underpriced and undeclared Chinese goods to Hungary, investigators suspect.

“It is maybe too soon to jump to conclusions, but it is worrying that fraudsters are now obviously looking at infrastructure investment as a business opportunity for them too,” Bianchi said, urging EU authorities to make sure that the infrastructure built by the Chinese “is not exploited for illicit traffic”.

In the British scheme, Chinese criminal organizations used the German port of Hamburg as Europe’s first arrival point for undervalued clothing and footwear cargos. But goods passed customs controls only after having been shipped to Britain’s ports, under EU rules that spare checks on items in transit between the bloc’s member states.

The British ports of Dover and Felixstowe were still the EU’s main hubs for undervalued Chinese imports in 2017, OLAF data showed, but that flow has nearly stopped this year because of stricter checks by British customs, EU officials said.

Britain’s decision to leave the EU’s customs union might have also persuaded the criminal groups that oversee this business to find new routes to bring Chinese goods into Europe, the officials said.

The British government is contesting that frauds occurred in UK ports. OLAF chief Nick Ilett said he expected the controversy with Britain would last “some time” and would probably need to be settled at the EU’s court of justice.

OLAF defines undervalued goods as those which fall far below the average price declared in all EU customs

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-trade-greece-hungary/eu-warns-uk-centered-china-import-scam-may-shift-to-europes-silk-road-idUSKCN1J20U3

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Balochistan to establish first medical university

https://www.dawn.com/news/1366135

The Newspaper's Staff CorrespondentOctober 25, 2017QUETTA: The provincial cabinet on Tuesday approved the draft for establishing a medical university in Balochistan.Health minister Mir Rehmat Saleh Baloch made the announcement while speaking at a press conference after a cabinet meeting.“The cabinet has approved the draft of the medical university which would be presented in the current session of the Balochistan Assembly,” he said, adding with the assembly’s approval the Bolan Medical College would be converted into a medical university.Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2017

CPEC Jobs in Pakistan, salary details

JOBS...نوکریاں چائنہ کمپنی میںPlease help the deserving persons...Salary:Salary package in China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in these 300,000 jobs shall be on daily wages. The details of the daily wages are as follows;Welder: Rs. 1,700 dailyHeavy Duty Driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyMason: Rs. 1,500 dailyHelper: Rs. 850 dailyElectrician: Rs. 1,700 dailySurveyor: Rs. 2,500 dailySecurity Guard: Rs. 1,600 dailyBulldozer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyConcrete mixer machine operator: Rs. 2,000 dailyRoller operator: Rs. 2,000 dailySteel fixer: Rs. 2,200 dailyIron Shuttering fixer: Rs. 1,800 dailyAccount clerk: Rs. 2,200 dailyCarpenter: Rs. 1,700 dailyLight duty driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyLabour: Rs. 900 dailyPara Engine mechanic: Rs. 1,700 dailyPipe fitter: Rs. 1,700 dailyStorekeeper: Rs. 1,700 dailyOffice boy: Rs. 1,200 dailyExcavator operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyShovel operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyComputer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailySecurity Supervisor: Rs. 2,200 dailyCook for Chinese food: Rs. 2,000 dailyCook…

Germany’s Siemens sets up Belt and Road office in Beijing

https://gbtimes.com/germanys-siemens-sets-up-belt-and-road-office-in-beijing
Germany’s Siemens sets up Belt and Road office in Beijingby Janne Suokas Mar 23, 2018 15:20 TRADEINVESTMENTBELT AND ROAD INITIATIVEGerman industrial and engineering group Siemens will set up a Belt and Road office in Beijing. surberFlickrCC BY 2.0
German industrial and engineering group Siemens will set up an office in Beijing to boost international cooperation under China’s Belt and Road initiative, the company said on Friday.The move will help strengthen Siemens’ cooperation with Chinese and international companies and expand business opportunities brought about by the Belt and Road initiative, according to the company’s statement.The Belt and Road initiative is China’s ambitious project to boost trade and infrastructure investment in more than 65 countries along the ancient Silk Road trade routes from Asia to Europe and Africa.Siemens said it had already partnered with hundreds of Chinese companies in overse…