Customs Investigation Teams
At each of the nine customs offices in Austria, there are customs investigation teams whose main task is to combat smuggling, as well as to enforce the Fiscal Offences Act in relation thereto.
The focus of investigations is in the realm of cigarette smuggling at national and international level. Since cigarette smuggling, in particular the smuggling of forgeries, constitutes a Europe-wide problem, international collaboration with the European Union and in particular the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is essential. Joint investigations combined with customs investigations of other Member States have in the past led to the detection and conviction of numerous groups of perpetrators operating across numerous international borders. The high monetary fines and custodial sentences imposed by the Fiscal Offences Act serve to indicate that smuggling and the receipt of smuggled tobacco products should on no account be viewed as trivial offences.
However, customs investigation teams also look into major fraud cases in connection with meat exports to third countries. In place of quality meat, only low-quality meat is exported, but a high export refund for quality meat is applied for. The resultant financial loss is huge and also causes immense losses to the budget of the European Union and consequently also Austria.
An independent customs investigation team with appropriate IT equipment deals with combating all aspects of internet fraud. This includes securing evidence and restoring deleted data on computers. Market observation in terms of current trends in electronic business transactions (in particular mail order transactions) and operational internet investigation and perpetrator identification also form part of the work undertaken by such specialists.
Via the Data, Information and Preparation Centre, citizens and economic operators may notify relevant information (smuggling, etc.) of interest to the customs investigation teams. Upon request, such information can also be handled confidentially, thus maintaining the anonymity of the person providing it.