Prague - Fifteen people accused in the case of tax evasion in fuel trading used a chain of minimally 66 firms headed by stooges to cover up their crime, Czech state attorneys and anti-corruption police officers told journalists.
The suspects cheated the Czech state of 2.3 billion crowns in unpaid taxes concerning 409 million litres of fuel imported from Germany and Slovenia from March 2012 to June 2013, the detectives said.
The organised crime group was headed by Shahram Abdullah Zadeh, an influential Iranian oil trader with a Czech passport, according to media.
Zadeh was nearly arrested in Dubai in 2010 but he succeeded in obtaining a Czech passport, thanks to a hasty marriage with a Czech woman at the embassy in Abu Dhabi, and he flew to Prague immediately, daily Lidove noviny wrote.
Two previous prime ministers of Czech caretaker governments wrote letters in his support to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - Jan Fischer in 2010 and Jiri Rusnok at the beginning of this year.
The anti-corruption police searched 16 houses and nine other buildings.
Thirteen suspects were remanded in custody and the remaining two are supervised by a probation clerk.
If found guilty of avoiding to pay taxes and forming an organised criminal group, the accused face up to 13 years in prison.