Anti-tax evasion squad Cobra marks one year in action with convincing results

Tomáš Tuhý, photo: Filip Jandourek

Cobra, a special team established to fight tax evasion just a year ago, has produced convincing results. Assessing its first year in action, police president Tomáš Tuhý, said the team had done a good job, preventing tax evasion to the tune of 1.9 billion crowns.

Tomáš Tuhý,  photo: Filip Jandourek
The anti-tax evasion squad Cobra was set up in June of 2014, along the lines of a similar force which was producing excellent results in neighbouring Slovakia. It is made up of police officers, customs officials and tax administrators and its task is to help reduce that staggering sum of approximately 150 billion crowns that the country loses annually through tax evasion.

Compared to the overall amount, the 1.9 billion crowns saved in the past year is a drop in the ocean but according to police chief Tomáš Tuhý it’s a good start and the team has proved it is action-capable. In the past 12 months it has investigated dozens of cases relating to fictitious deals in the areas of fuel, advertising, textiles, machinery, construction works, cigarettes and tobacco. Overall it investigated 275 people and proposed filing charges against 210 of them. The biggest raid undertaken by the squad took place in the vicinity of Kladno, central Bohemia, in early February, in which 29 people were arrested in connection with suspected tax evasion to the tune of 300 million crowns.

“The past twelve months have proved that we are capable of cracking down on the big fish, not just the small fry,” police chief Tomáš Tuhý told reporters in Prague on Monday. He is asking the government to finance the team’s expansion which would enable it to get a broader scope, covering all regions of the Czech Republic and working on more cases simultaneously. At present the team has approximately 60 people. Tuhý would like to see their ranks expanded by another 150 in the next four years. Whether or not that is realistic will depend on the overall amount earmarked for the police force in the coming years – if there is money for expansion Cobra should be able to expand as well, the police president said.

He produced the teams’ result just hours before a document on the future of the police force was to be debated by the National Security Council and then discussed in the Cabinet.