Heavy Handed HM Revenues and Customs Officers Raid Germany’s Faberge Museum

British investigators from HM Revenues and Customs have raided the Faberge Museum, in downtown Baden-Baden, in Germany. This is a private museum owned by the Russian billionaire and art collector, Alexander Ivanov. It comprises the largest collection of objects and jewellery created by the Faberge workshop in the world.

In a totally misguided and ‘unnecessary’ show of force, 40 British law-enforcement officers with support from Germany’s Financial Investigation and Customs Department, raided the Museum located in the city centre. Acting at the request of HM Revenues and Customs in the United Kingdom, the officers have presented accusations that the Faberge Museum has avoided paying £70,000 pounds in VAT on objects bought from London auction houses over a 15 year period. The objects were imported to Russia which is outside of the VAT zone and then put on display in Baden-Baden, in the museum’s other location, which is within the EU.

The museum has stated that the charges are completely unfounded. Investigators have also raided the home and searched the car of the Faberge Museum’s director, Sergei Avtonoshkin. They reported that they found nothing incriminating.

“This case dates to early 2012 and began with a misunderstanding at Heathrow Airport when I was leaving the UK to Moscow with some recently purchased art items,’’ said Sergei Avtonoshkin, director of the Faberge Museum. “A year ago we successfully refuted the allegations against the museum, and so this current raid comes as a huge surprise. No crime was committed, and amid the current anti-Russia hysteria in the UK now, I have the impression that officials want to use this case to make a political statement. Their goal was clearly to abuse and instil fear into the museum owner and its employees.’’

The case came to light in early February 2012 when Mr Avtonoshkin missed a flight from London to Moscow, via Paris. He attempted to change airlines and rebook however was stopped by Custom agents who suspected that he was not exporting the valuable objects out of the EU. The items were bought at both Christies and Bonhams and were headed for the museum’s headquarters in Moscow. Sixty items were seized by HM Customs at the time and an investigation was launched. British customs officers are now investigating objects in the collection, at the museum.  Faberge Museum director, Sergei Avtonoshkin is confident that this misunderstanding will be cleared up.

Is this the sort of thing that HM Revenues and Customs should be concentrating on rather than going straight for Starbucks, Amazon, Google and Facebook not to mention Vodafone, for the real lost revenue? What a waste of time and money!!!  Leave comments below…

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