25 businesses searched Bonn auto dealers accused of smuggling cars from Libya

BEUEL · Customs authorities conducted large-scale raids on car dealerships in Bonn. 25 businesses were searched. The dealerships are accused of selling cars smuggled to Bonn from Libya.

Customs officials carried out large-scale raids against car smugglers in Bonn on Wednesday morning. The customs bureau in Essen announced on Thursday morning that more than 100 customs officials searched 25 properties in and around Bonn. The reason was suspected commercial tax evasion. The raids were directed against eleven suspected car dealers, who are suspected of having brought in hundreds of vehicles from Libya to the EU since 2017 without paying import duties. Customs officials confiscated more than 150,000 euros in cash and business documents during the searches.

Based on information from previous investigations, the vehicles were routed regularly via a ferry connection from Tunisia to France into the EU. Various drivers are said to have subsequently brought the cars to Bonn. There they were sold to the car dealers who are under investigation. The drivers of the cars, which had Libyan license plates, said they were on vacation or a business trip.

Leading the search operation were customs officials responsible for tax crimes in the state of NRW from the bureau in Essen, with help from officials in the Aachen, Duisburg and Cologne offices.

Customs officers searched the premises of a car dealership at the corner of Königswinterer Straße and Röhfeldstraße in Beuel on Wednesday. Apparently, bags with license plates were confiscated. The customs officials inspected high-end vehicles on the property and checked chassis numbers.

At the location in Beuel, customs authorities closed down the used car dealership while it completed its search until late in the afternoon on Wednesday. The owner of the used car dealership was not reachable for comment in person or by telephone. An official said there was a suspicion of commercial tax evasion in the case. He was referring to evasion of customs duties and import sales taxes. All searches ordered by the prosecution were based on a preliminary investigation against several people.

(Origuinal text: kph / Translation: ck)

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