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Press release18 February 2015European Anti-Fraud Office2 min read

OLAF in major operation against counterfeiters


18 February 2015
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A clandestine factory of counterfeit shampoo was dismantled, two individuals arrested and 229,000 bottles of counterfeit shampoo as well as 805 kg of chemical products were seized in early February in Spain thanks to information provided by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). The successful operation was the result of cooperation between OLAF, Spanish and Dutch customs authorities and the legitimate rights-holder.

The counterfeit shampoo, which was imported from China in bulk and bottled in clandestine production plants in Spain, does not comply with the EU safety and sanitary requirements for such products. It was placed on the EU market though a very complex setup run by criminal networks operating across several EU Member States.

The Director-General of OLAF, Mr Giovanni Kessler said: "It is very difficult for a single authority to intercept such well-organised, international fraudsters. OLAF brings added value by providing our operational partners with key information on the movement of such goods across the EU. I congratulate the Spanish customs authorities on this success and also thank the Dutch customs authorities and the shampoo brand owner for their cooperation and support to OLAF."

OLAF is competent to conduct investigations related to counterfeit goods that enter the EU through its external borders. The trade of such products generates vast illicit profits for fraudsters and causes huge losses of tax revenues for the EU and its Member States.

In this case, OLAF had received information from the French customs authorities of a seizure in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, of 240,000 bottles of counterfeit shampoo allegedly destined for the EU market. OLAF was further informed of additional seizures of counterfeit shampoo in three other Member States amounting to over 300,000 bottles. Following a careful analysis of the available information, OLAF identified a vast number of shipments of this counterfeit shampoo, imported into the EU by the same companies in the United Arab Emirates involved in the initial seizures.

In close cooperation with the customs authorities through the port of Rotterdam, all the specific information related to the identified shipments was provided by OLAF and distributed to all the Member States involved, with a request for further action. The legitimate rights-holder, whose products had been counterfeited also provided support.

Following receipt of OLAF’s information and request, the Spanish customs authorities reacted immediately. They succeeded in ensuring the successful seizure of counterfeit shampoo labels as well as of a potential harmful product and they dismantled a clandestine production plant in Malaga.

The Spanish customs authorities arrested a German and Kazakh citizen and they have initiated a criminal investigation. For further details on the Spanish seizure, see the press release by the Spanish customs authorities.

For further details:
European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)
Phone: +32 2 295 73 36
E-mail: olaf-mediaatec [dot] europa [dot] eu (olaf-media[at]ec[dot]europa[dot]eu)

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Publication date
18 February 2015
European Anti-Fraud Office
News type
  • OLAF press release