Prosecutors in the German city of Koblenz has performed together with customs officials a search of the offices of the low-cost airline Ryanair. The reason: suspicion of tax evasion, reported German media, including authoritative Die Zeit.
German authorities suspect that airline pilots are working “black”, evading insurance. So they have ransacked the staff offices of six German airports from which Ryanair operates – Berlin-Schönefeld, Köln Bonn, Dusseldorf Weeze, Frankfurt-Hahn, Bremen, and Baden-Baden.
Investigators have questioned the pilots about their working conditions and confiscated computers, tablets, and separate documents. Witnesses say at least 35 German customs officers have been involved in the campaign and one Dutch.
The prosecution of Koblenz has confirmed to Die Zeit, that the search was part of an investigation against two British agencies for recruitment that mediate the appointment of pilots for Ryanair. At least two private homes of pilots who are suspected of evading taxes were searched.
Investigators explained to the newspaper that are being investigated the strange ways in which Ryanair hires staff. Airline recruits hundreds of self-employed persons, thereby significantly reduces the cost of taxes and insurance.
The prosecution in Germany has been investigating for years the agency Recruitment Brookfield Aviation, which leases pilots to the Irish carrier. For the company this model saves huge costs because employees are practically not working at it and are paying their insurance themselves. According to Die Zeit, there are at least 1,600 employees recruited in this way.