Illegal trafficking in bananas had netted those responsible hundreds of millions of euros over two years, according to OLAF (the European Anti-Fraud Office).

In June 2000, OLAF acted on information received to crack the smuggling ring.
In the importation of bananas, EC rules entitle importers with a valid import licence (an AGRIM certificate) to lower customs duties on goods within the yearly quota compared to the duties levied on non-quota goods. License holders pay duties of €55 (US$) per tonne instead of €850 per tonne. In this case it was discovered that a number of unscrupulous operators obtained false import licences and used these to import bananas.

Initially, the Italian authorities suspected the economic operators involved of smuggling cocaine. Thanks to the action at the European level it was discovered that what was involved was a fraud involving the importation of bananas.

The Italian authorities have now issued a public declaration on this case. To read this, click here.