On 5th July, it was announced that the European Court of Auditors is conducting an audit to find out how effectively the EU is addressing the challenges posed by e-commerce in terms of VAT and customs duties. The ECA will examine the European Commission’s regulatory and control framework for e-commerce and co-operation between Member States to ensure that VAT and customs duties on e-commerce transactions are collected in full. The ECA has published a Background Paper on the collection of VAT and customs duties on e-commerce as a source of information for those interested in the subject. The audit includes visits to the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Ireland and Sweden. The report is expected to be published in mid-2019. The background paper says that e-commerce is prone to irregularities concerning VAT and customs duties and these directly affect the Member States’ budgets and, indirectly, that of the EU (by reducing the Member States’ customs duties and VAT-based contributions to the EU). Issues identified in the paper include – reliance on traders co-operating voluntarily; Member States have no enforcement powers outside their own jurisdiction, especially in relation to non-EU traders; B2C transactions are not covered by the VAT information exchange system (VIES); and the tax authorities of the country of registration (or the Member State of identification) have little incentive to carry out proper checks on suppliers because any VAT discovered belongs to the Member State of consumption.
The background paper is at –
The Times on 5th July reported that William Veres, a British antiques dealer has been arrested in London on suspicion of masterminding a European gang which looted Greek and Roman artefacts worth millions. He is accused of hiring criminals who hid looted coins among the change in their wallets to smuggle them from Sicily to auction houses in Germany. An Italian police officer is quoted as saying they had no idea that Veres was running such an elaborate operation. About 1,000 artefacts, including rare Roman and Greek coins worth thousands of euros, were found at his home.
Lawyerly in Australia reported on 4th July that David Levick has filed a lawsuit against the US and the Attorney-General for the Commonwealth of Australia, arguing that the latter failed to properly consider whether he had committed extraditable offenses when it decided June 8th to surrender him to the US. Levick and his company, ICM Components Inc, were indicted by a grand jury in 2012 for allegedly conspiring to export military technology to an Iranian company from the US 2007-2009, including parts used for missiles, drones, torpedoes and helicopters. They are also accused of using subterfuge to disguise the destination of the goods, and the source of payments.