News2019.11.22 11:00

Cross-border operation busts suspected illicit metal traders in Lithuania and Germany

Lithuanian and German law enforcement detained 30 suspects in operation targeting illicit traders in precious metals, with over 1 million euros seized in cash.

"Coordinated measures have been taken in Germany and Lithuania […] officers have seized 1.03 million euros in cash," Darius Valkavičius, a chief prosecutor at the regional prosecutor's office in Kaunas, Lithuania's second-largest city, told reporters on Thursday.

The investigation is being carried out in cooperation with German law enforcement on a wider scope of illegal activity, "with the value of certain illegal activity is said to be standing at around 200 million euros in Germany," Marius Venskūnas, a prosecutor from the organised crime and corruption department, said.

Two suspected couriers and an organiser, all of them residents in Vilnius, were detained as part of the case. "The suspects used to work as couriers brining large sums of money to Lithuania from Germany and Poland," Rolandas Urbonas, head of the Financial Crime Investigation Service's Kaunas regional branch, said, adding that money used to be stashed in hidden compartments in cars.

Over 3 tons of scrap was seized at a business involved in the purchase and recycle of electronic waste and catalyst powder.

The prosecutor said the suspects would bring in electronic goods and cars' catalytic converters from Ukraine, recycle them and then sell in Germany and the Czech Republic.

21 searches were carried out in Vilnius, Kaunas and Alytus on Wednesday as part of this investigation, and a large-scale operation was also carried out in Germany where 27 people were detained and over 60 searches were carried out.

The investigation will further look into how the money was used, which the prosecutors believe, could have been used to invest into real estate in Lithuania and abroad.

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