Brussels, 29 January 2010
Success in the fight against counterfeiting: results of ASEM joint customs operation
A joint customs operation, codenamed Diabolo II, conducted in the framework of ASEM (Asia–Europe meeting 1 ) has led to the seizure of more than 65 million counterfeit cigarettes and 369,000 other counterfeit items (shoes, toys, cameras, headphones, hats, caps, gloves, handbags, etc.) representing over 20 different trademarks. The operation also resulted in further international investigations into criminal activities. Final results of this operation were released today at a debriefing meeting held in Tokyo. This joint customs operation, coordinated by the European Commission/the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), was codenamed "Diabolo II” following the successful 2007 joint customs operation "Diabolo I".
Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for administrative affairs, audit and anti-fraud, said: “The success of this joint operation highlights the importance of maintaining close cooperation among all partners to combat the global trade in counterfeit goods and to protect legitimate trade in genuine products. This operation is an excellent model for future operational cooperation, built on confidence and trust, involving all ASEM partners, including Brunei Darussalam, China and India, who were unable to participate in this exercise. I would like to congratulate all participants for their efforts in this joint customs operation and strongly encourage continuing such joint actions”.
ASEM, with its 45 European and Asian members, again proved an effective platform for cooperation among customs administrations. Meeting in Yokohama in November 2007, ASEM customs directors-general and commissioners agreed to launch a joint operation aimed at enhancing cooperation in the fight against fraud, taking into account the encouraging results of the Diabolo I 2 operation. They appointed the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) to coordinate the operation.
Diabolo II targeted the smuggling of counterfeit cigarettes and other counterfeit goods within the framework of ASEM . The operation took place in September/October 2009, coordinated by OLAF with the support of Europol and Interpol.
The operation's success is due to the excellent cooperation and effective work involving customs officials from 13 Asian countries and 27 EU Member States. The results of Diabolo II were announced only today by the European Commission (Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union / European Anti-Fraud Office), the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council and Japanese Customs, since the operation established links between the illicit traffic in cigarettes and organized crime leading to additional criminal investigations.
As previously agreed between all parties involved in the operation, containers shipped from Asia to Europe last autumn were targeted and placed under surveillance. On the basis of 346 suspect containers selected for physical inspection or scanning, 30 containers were identified and impounded with counterfeit cigarettes and other counterfeit items. This averted potential losses to the budgets of the EU and its Member States (customs duties and taxes) of approximately € 10 million for counterfeit cigarettes alone.
Europol and Interpol reported that 89 individuals or companies involved in criminal organizations were identified by cross-checking information provided by customs authorities.
During the operation, all participating countries successfully used a specific IT communication tool for the real-time exchange of information and intelligence. It was also the first time that OLAF deployed the secure internet access to its communication tool (the Anti-Fraud Information System) for the 13 Asian countries. The operation was coordinated at OLAF headquarters in Brussels via a physical operational co-ordination unit (POCU) staffed by customs liaison officers from 11 EU Member States and 1 liaison officer from Europol.
Results and experiences of Diabolo II will be discussed at the ASEM customs forum, and ASEM customs directors-general/commissioners will decide on appropriate follow-up.
An overview of joint customs operations, including a list of the results of Operation Diabolo II and copyright-free pictures, are available on the OLAF website: http://ec.europa.eu/anti_fraud/Diabolo-II/i_en.html
See also MEMO/10/23
ASEM members: Brunei, Cambodia, China, India Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, ASEAN secretariat, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden, Romania, United Kingdom and the European Commission.
All information available here: http://ec.europa.eu/anti_fraud/diabolo/i_en.html