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1ST LEAD Britain rejects EU demand it repay 2 billion euros in custom duties By Naveena Kottoor, dpa

Europe
08.03.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Brussels (dpa) - British customs authorities on Wednesday rejected demands from the EU‘s anti-fraud office that Britain repay 1.987 billion euros (2.1 billion dollars) in lost customs duties for Chinese textile and footwear imports.

According to the anti-fraud office OLAF, an investigation between 2013 and 2016 revealed a major pattern of customs fraud, caused by declaring falsely low values for textiles and footwear from China.

OLAF said that the most significant hub for the fraudulent traffic was in Britain, and that the losses to the EU budget were on-going since the fraud has not been stopped to date.

The British customs authorities, HMRC, rejected the accusations.

"HMRC has a very strong track record for tackling fraud and rule breaking of all kinds," a spokesman said.

OLAF‘s figures were only estimates and would be challenged, HMRC said.

The EU anti-fraud office said that it had "repeatedly drawn the attention of the UK customs authorities (HMRC) over the last years to the scale of the phenomenon and to the ongoing revenue losses."

"As far as OLAF is aware, the UK authorities have not introduced risk profiles and the measures that they have taken do not appear to have curbed this traffic. To date, they have not initiated any criminal investigations in relation to these frauds either," OLAF said in a statement.

Following the investigation, the European Commission will now have to decide whether to take measures and recoup the losses to the EU budget.

 

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