Foreign tax fraud gangs cost Norway millions

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Norway faces a multi-million kroner deficit due to tax criminals. Photo: Shutterstock
10:34 CEST+02:00
Organized criminals from the Balkans are responsible for over half of the 1.1 billion kroner ($174 million) in lost tax and VAT revenue, the Norwegian government said on Monday.

The amount covers the last 18 months and tax officials see the threat from criminals overseas as a real concern for Norway.

One of the worst hit parts is East Norway which lost 185 million kroner ($29 million) Jan-Egil Kristiansen, head of tax crime investigation in the region, said to Aftenposten: "These are multi-criminal networks and the threat from them is serious."

Kristiansen places the blame on gangs based in the Balkan states of Eastern Europe who he holds responsible for embezzling more than half the 1.1billion kroner and growing that is missing from the government's purse.

To combat the problem, Prime Minister Erna Solberg has given 25 million kroner ($3.9 million) towards fighting the problem.

Kristiansen said: "We are satisfied with new controls and more money. However, the organised criminals are a big threat and completely different measures have to be used to uncover them. Current controls are just touching the surface of the problem and seldom lead to punishment of serious financial crimes."

Kristiansen believes the lack of police resources makes pursuing cases revealed by Norwegian tax authorities very demanding.

"This is multiple combined crimes, hidden by clever methods. The crime spreads very quickly. For the criminals, coming to Norway to commit the crimes is very lucrative. We have seen an increase in organised crimes and the criminals jump the fence where it is lowest. Avoiding VAT is punished less severely than drug smuggling."

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