Police breaks up gang flooding Poland’s LPG market with heating oil

CBŚP, the Polish Central Investigation Bureau of Police, has arrested 11 members of an organized criminal gang suspected of having sold large quantities of heating oil falsely labelled as LPG. The illegal procedure allowed the group to avoid paying the obligatory taxes on LPG. The tax fraud cost the Polish treasury at least 3.3 million PLN in just 6 months.

During the police operation, which took place at the end of November, 260 officers searched 140 locations across the country and arrested 11 people, including a businessman who is accused of acting as the group’s leader. The CBŚP, sometimes called “the Polish FBI”, raided the locations with the assistance of units from the police headquarters in Łódz, as well as units from the National Revenue Administration (KAS) offices in Łódź and Silesia.

The police seized computers, USB devices, cell phones as well as thousands of document pages. The investigation points to a criminal procedure in which heating oil has been sold to a number of LPG stations without the mandatory invoices or with invoices presenting inaccurate quantities of oil sold.

The public prosecutor’s office in Sieradz, handling the case, has charged the suspects with belonging to an organized criminal gang as well as tax fraud. 10 of the accused face up to 5 years in prison while the alleged head of the gang could be sentenced to as much as 10 years behind bars for his additional role as the group’s leader.

The prosecutor suspects that the group has been active for years in a number of Polish regions, including the provinces of Łódź, Masovia, Silesia and Greater Poland. 7 of the accused have been detained for 3 months while 4 have been released after paying PLN 12,000 to 20,000 in bail. Estimates of the total losses sustained by the treasury are still being calculated but according to the investigation, the total sum is expected to be in the region of dozens of PLN millions.