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In 2017, the canning tuna group made provision in its accounts for 19 million euros in case they had to meet the payment of these tax debts.

Calvo will pay EUR 9.7 million to the Treasury for tariff fraud on imports of tuna

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Thursday, June 13, 2019, 15:00 (GMT + 9)

  • The cannery imported tuna products from its plant in El Salvador under the tariff reductions applied by the EU to the products of this Central American country

  • An investigation by the Anti-Fraud Office of the European Commission (OLAF) in 2009 determined that the origin of "significant quantities" of the tuna was not the one alleged, and therefore it had to pay taxes on imports

  • The Calvo Group abides by the ruling but believes that it is receiving an "unlawful" treatment, insists that 100% of its imports "fulfilled the requirements of the customs regulations" and points out that the payment will not harm their accounts as it was provisioned

The Supreme Court has dismissed the last appeal filed by the Calvo canning company to avoid paying EUR 9.7 million to the Treasury after a long litigation with Customs. The Galician canner based in Carballo will have to face the payment of this amount. Against the ruling of the Supreme Court, to which eldiario.es has had access, there is no recourse.

The origin of the litigation between the international food group and the Customs Department of the Tax Agency dates back to 2009. That year, the Anti-Fraud Office of the European Commission (OLAF) carried out an investigation into the Calvo branch in El Salvador, among other tuna "for suspicion of fraud in the importation of products from the processing of tuna."

Processing plant of Grupo Calvo in the Bay of La Unión (El Salvador)

They wanted to verify the real origin of the raw materials used for the production of frozen tuna loins and for the canned tuna exported to the European Union, which according to the Spanish food group came from the aforementioned Central American country. Products from El Salvador, among other countries, enjoy lower tariffs when exported to the EU under an agreement called Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

What OLAF discovers, on the one hand, is that although Calvo declared that the products came from El Salvador, two of its vessels, Montelape and Montealegre, between January 2007 and October 2008 were registered in the Seychelles and in the Caribbean country, with an assumption of double flagging. "Consequently, the catches made by both vessels during the period from January 2007 to October 2008 can not be considered as originating in El Salvador, in the opinion of OLAF, therefore the tariff reductions provided for in the SPG agreement are not applicable", explains the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, there ar some tuna catches that are made by certain non-group vessels and later imported into El Salvador from Ivory Coast in order to incorporate them into their production process and export the finished product to the European Union under the program of tariff reductions. In this respect, OLAF takes into account the composition of the crews of the vessels that carried out the catches to determine that they did not meet the requirements to receive the customs exemptions.

Source: Marina Estévez Torreblanca / eldiario.es | Read the full story here (Spanish)

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