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8 Mar, 2024 13:02

Arrests in Germany over alleged luxury car Russia-import scheme – media

The suspects “deliberately violated” EU sanctions by allegedly importing luzury cars into Russia, according to RBB24
Arrests in Germany over alleged luxury car Russia-import scheme – media

German emergency services and police have conducted raids on several premises connected to a gang that is said to have smuggled luxury cars into Russia, in violation of EU sanctions, public broadcaster RBB24 has reported.  

Seven private and company addresses in Berlin and the state of Brandenburg were searched on behalf of the Frankfurt (Oder) public prosecutor’s office. A bank safe deposit box wa also checked, according to a joint statement by the Berlin-Brandenburg Customs Investigation Office and the Berlin Police.

Three suspects aged 25, 49 and 52 were arrested, while cash, real estate, and vehicles worth over €1 million ($1.09 million) were confiscated, the report said.

The gang members are accused of selling more than 400 cars worth over €28 million ($30.6 million) to Russia since June 2022 under the pretense of exporting them to Belarus, it added. According to the investigation, the suspects deliberately violated sanctions that the EU imposed on Russia over its military campaign against Ukraine.

The average value of each car in question was roughly €70,000 ($76,511), while the restrictions explicitly prohibit the exportation of cars to Russia priced over €50,000 ($54,650).

According to RBB24, the gang members face a prison sentence of at least two years if convicted.

In January, German outlet ZDF reported that traffickers were taking luxury cars to Belarus via Poland and Lithuania, and were then transporting them to Russia. Telegram channels in the sanctioned country are full of offers of German vehicles worth far in excess of €50,000 ($54,650), the outlet said.

That is made possible by loopholes in the sanctions regime, as the exportation of luxury goods such as sports cars to Belarus is allowed, ZDF noted. There are no trade or transport restrictions between Russia and Belarus, which is one of Moscow’s closest trade and political partners.