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Smuggling of spirits and extensive tax evasion uncovered in Päijät-Häme

Publication date 18.4.2024 8.10

Finnish Customs has investigated a case of illegal import of spirits from Estonia. Almost 40 000 litres of spirits was imported to Finland during a period of roughly five years. The proceeds of crime are calculated to be about 1.6 million euros.

Between 2016 and 2021, a company registered in Päijät-Häme acquired almost 40 000 litres of spirits from Estonia without a valid permit. In practice, the company had no other activities than the illegal import of spirits, and according to official registers, the business has ceased at the end of last year. The entrepreneur in question failed to declare and pay 1.6 million euros in excise tax to the Tax Administration. Customs has cooperated closely with the Tax Administration, which has conducted an excise tax audit of the company in question. 

– There have been three main suspects in the case under investigation, one of whom is the holder of the company name in question. The suspects have stated that the spirits were used as raw material for glass cleaning fluids, and they have presented invoices in support of their claim. These invoices are suspected to be false, and the companies were all related to the suspects. In reality, there is reason to suspect that the spirits have ended up in consumption, says lead investigator Sari Knaapi.

For this investigation, Customs has acquired for example expert opinions on a national level, as well as evidence from abroad through international legal assistance.  

Customs has investigated the case as an aggravated tax fraud, an aggravated alcohol offence and a smuggling offence pertaining to illegal import and distribution of denatured alcohol, that is, spirits. The preliminary investigation is about to be completed, and the case will be forwarded to the Prosecution District of Southern Finland for consideration of charges during this spring. 

Media release