Father and son team fined for importing illegal vegetables to Switzerland
A father and son team have been fined 1,6 million euros after it was discovered that they were illegally importing vegetables from France to Switzerland. Customs authorities in the two countries have now recovered 7 million euros in lost revenue.
Free trade area between Gaillard and Geneva exploited by two farmers
The two culprits were found to have violated the Zone Franche or free trade agreement between Gaillard in France and the city of Geneva. Under the law, signed in 1815, French vegetables grown in Gaillard and imported to the canton are not subject to Swiss taxes.
The father and son team allegedly exploited the free trade area by importing large amounts of vegetables produced outside of the town, dodging taxes and making a good profit, as vegetables are more expensive in Switzerland than in France. In all, the two made more than 1.000 false declarations at the border before they were caught.
Father and son team ordered to pay 1,6 million-euro fine
The trick was discovered by Swiss police during a customs check in 2016. An investigation of the farmers revealed the extent of crime, as the fields in Gaillard that the two claim to have used to grow the vegetables were found to be fallow.
In all, the fraudsters had saved 7 million euros using the free trade area illegally. After being found guilty in a court in Thonon-les-Bains, the two were ordered to pay 1,6 million euros in fines, along with the 7 million-euro bill for the illegally imported legumes. Apartments and tens of thousands of euros were also seized in what has to be one of the biggest fines in history related to carrots.