Two billions astray revealed by ATMs
In five years, the Tax Administration has revealed NOK 2.2 billion in hidden revenues and wealth by keeping tabs on all ATMs withdrawals with foreign bank cards. The financial industry likes to be as sneaky as their dishonest customers.
Recently, three men from Østfold were sentenced to several years in prison for embezzling their own company of NOK 7.2 million and withdrawing their money via Swiss bank cards in Norwegian ATMs.
The fraud occurred by creating a fictitious company in Malta, where they sent fake invoices to their Norwegian company. The money was paid to an account in Malta then it was transferred to banks in Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
The three men has bank cards for the Swiss bank account, which worked in Norwegian ATMs. Regular withdrawals prompted the Tax Administration to begin investing the trail of this economic crime.
The tax authorities confirm that they have revealed 255 such cases since 2013, which have revealed NOK 960 million in revenues that also were tax evasion and NOK 1.275 billion in hidden assets.
“This has been a very good and accurate control method in which we have uncovered many things and significant amounts in tax that have been hidden abroad, and we would not have been able to uncover these without this method,” says tax chief of tax east of Jan-Egil Kristiansen.
One of the major cases that was revealed through the use of foreign bank cards went to court in February last year.
Three people had created a business with the sale of content services for mobile phones in the Norwegian market. They built up a network of companies in Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Belize and Thailand.
They used several of these companies to extract NOK 83 million out of the country. The money was then moved between the different companies and banks before the money was then taken out in Norwegian ATMs.
That is how it came to the attention of the Norwegian tax authorities, which oversees card use in general. Police action was then taken with a search and seizure which led to the fraud being revealed.
Two of the three were convicted; one for three years and one month and the other three years and eleven months, in prison. They were also denied the right to pursue business activity for five years.
Finance Norway is the main organization of the banks that owns the ATMs, where most of the money from the illegal transactions is taken out.
Communications Director of Finance Norway, Jan Erik Fåne, is pleased that the Tax Administration is watching for illegal transactions that occur through the ATMs.
“Where there is reason to believe that money is associated with tax evasion, it is good to have a control system that can uncover this through several methods that the Tax Administration has the authority to use. In such contexts, it is an important social responsibility for banks to contribute.
Finance Norway emphasizes that this is not the monitoring of minibank customers on a general basis, but there is reason to believe that unwanted activity is taking place.
“In an increasingly digitized society, one would have to abuse different banking services to conduct financial crimes,” says Fåne.
© NRK / #Norway Today