The Frutas Montosa premises were among those searched. / e. cabezas

Police investigating tax fraud in the Axarquía have seized nearly one million euros in cash

Fifteen people were arrested and numerous properties were searched as part of an operation led by the Economic and Fiscal Crime Unit

ÁLVARO FRÍAS Malaga

A major police operation in the Axarquía has resulted in 15 arrests and the discovery of almost one million euros in cash. The operation, led by specialists from the National Police force’s Economic and Fiscal Crime Unit (UDEF), took place on Wednesday 1 June and, in addition to the searches of several private homes, centred on the Frutas Montosa company.

The owner of the firm, José Luis Montosa, and technical director Clara Báez were detained, and a sub-tropical fruit grower from Lepe (Huelva), a commercial intermediary from Coín and the director of a vehicle repair business in Vélez-Malaga were also among those arrested.

As a result of the searches, officers seized IT material and various documents, as well as the cash.

Serious tax fraud

The police operation was part of an investigation into alleged fraud amounting to millions of euros in the purchase and sale of sub-tropical fruits, mainly avocados and mangos, in order to avoid paying tax. Frutas Montosa is believed to have been the epicentre of the scam.

Those involved may face charges of tax fraud, money laundering, falsifying documents and criminal organisation.

The scheme has been in operation since 2016, and during that time the tax authority Hacienda is believed to have been systematically defrauded out of different types of taxes through false invoicing for purchases of sub-tropical fruit and auxiliary services such as transport and equipment.

Police sources say the José Luis Montosa S.L. company appears to have been the centre of the alleged fraud, with its owner and sole administrator the leader and director of the scheme.

The police ascertained that the organisation was arranged as a hierarchy with a large number of members, including individuals and companies. These included fruit brokers, accountants, bank employees, local producers, transport companies and others who had agreed for sales to appear in their name, presumably in exchange for money.