Illicit trafficking and fake invoices, big deals with waste in Palermo: 15 precautionary measures and 146 suspects

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Fifteen precautionary measures, 146 people investigated for illicit trafficking of waste, false invoices, illicit disposal and tax offenses. These are the results of an operation by the finance guard after investigations coordinated by the Prosecutor of the Republic of Palermo, with the yellow flames of the Economic and Financial Police Unit of Palermo and the Special Currency Police Unit.

The investigations, carried out through tax audits and telephone interceptions, have made it possible to discover a complex mechanism for the management of metal waste through the use of false invoicing.

The investigations revealed a criminal system through which small business owners of sole proprietorships – total tax evaders and without environmental authorization – billed goods for 3.5 million euros from 2014 to 2017, amounts that actually did not correspond and actual contributions of material.

The main function of these companies, in fact, was to create false invoices to be delivered to 6 companies specialized in the collection and treatment of waste, based in Palermo, Carini and Capaci which in turn had the need to provide documentary justification for the material purchased in fact at cheaper prices from unofficial channels, and which, once worked, would have been resold at market price.

The mechanism was simple and well-established: the "cenciaioli" recovered metallic waste such as copper, iron, brass, aluminum, and proceeded to the subsequent transfer to the "collection platforms". Afterwards invoices were issued – the amounts of which were not declared to the tax authorities – for quantities of ferrous material far greater than those actually sold. The aim was to allow companies to justify important availability of goods actually originating from a parallel illicit circuit. The invoices were paid by bank transfers / bank checks to the "cenciaioli" who then withdrew the amounts received in cash which they returned to the "collection platforms", retaining only a small part as compensation.

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