The arrests by the Internal Security Agency (ABW) took place on 1 September in Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Ukraine.
The Polish Rzeczpospolita newspaper understands that the gang has been active since 2008 at least.
“It's one of the most spectacular cases of recent years,” an intelligence agency source told the daily, noting that the affair “exposed the Vietnamese mafia's influence in Poland and it's operations [in the country.]”.
“Intensive investigation into the case is ongoing,” the contact revealed, noting that the FBI had also been involved in the case.
According to the ABW, the gang has been tricking the treasury out of astronomical sums of unpaid taxes. The group falsified invoice values for shipments of goods – ranging from electronic gadgets to clothing to household appliances – typically claiming that products were a tenth of their actual value.
The goods were sold on for vast profits. Indeed, the ABW source alleges that daily deposits of several million zlotys were paid into the Polish bank account of one of the suspects.
Up to 50,000 Vietnamese are thought to be living and working in Poland, although many go undetected by authorities.
It is believed that the organised crime group operated mainly in Poland and the Czech Republic, using the port city of Hamburg, Germany, as funnel for their exports.
The leader of the gang is said to be a Vietnamese man who chiefly lived in Kiev. He is reported to have dozens of properties across Ukraine, as well as a fleet of luxury cars. However, on his visits to Poland, "the boss" was apparently less ostentatious.
“Over here, he was not rubbing it in our faces,” said the ABW source. “He travelled in old cars and did not flaunt his wealth.”
The intelligence officer confided that as many as 300 people had provided police with tips during the investigation.
On 1 September, some 180 searches were carried out, and thousands of accountancy documents were seized, as well as about 15 million zloty in cash ( 3.4 million euros ).
The investigation is ongoing. (nh/pg)