The European Public Prosecutor’s Office investigates the largest fraud of Next Generation funds in Italy worth 600 million

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office investigates the largest fraud of Next Generation funds in Italy worth 600 million

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The European Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched this Thursday a large-scale international investigation against the largest case of fraud of funds from the Recovery Plan to exit the pandemic, for a plot related to an alleged criminal organization suspected of having defrauded 600 million euros of Next Generation funds in Italy. So far, more than twenty people have been arrested in Italy, Austria, Romania and Slovakia.

On the radar of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office “there is a criminal association suspected of orchestrating, between 2021 and 2023, a fraudulent scheme to obtain funds from the Italian Recovery and Resilience Plan,” the organization explained in a statement.

The fraud case has led to the arrest of eight people, another 14 remain under house arrest and an accountant was prohibited from practicing his profession. The Guardia di Finanza of Venice has executed a preventive seizure order issued by the investigating judge on assets with a total value of more than 600 million euros. Until now, Italian police have seized luxury goods such as apartments and chalets, Rolex watches, high-end vehicles such as Lamborghini and Porsche, as well as jewelry, gold and cryptocurrencies.

The plot dates back to 2021 when members of the criminal association requested non-refundable subsidies to support the digitalization, innovation and competitiveness of small and medium-sized businesses, to expand their business activities to foreign markets. The suspects created false company balance sheets in order to demonstrate that the companies were active and profitable, when in reality they were fictitious and inactive companies.

Furthermore, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office suspects that the plot involves involved a network of accountants and public notaries who helped the organization to obtain 600 million euros in European funds in two years. “The suspects transferred the funds to their bank accounts in Austria, Romania and Slovakia as soon as they received the advances,” the European organization maintains.

In its operation, the plot would have resorted to advanced technologies such as VPNs, cloud servers located in other territories, crypto assets and artificial intelligence to carry out illegal actions.

Italy is positioned as the first beneficiary of financing from the Pandemic Recovery Plan, with a total allocation of 190 billion euros. In second place is Spain, with 163,000 million euros between grants and loans. The implementation of the pandemic exit plan was a milestone at the community level as member states traditionally aligned with frugal positions, such as the Netherlands, focused on possible cases of corruption and They warned of zero tolerance if they occurred.

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office is an independent body of the European Union that is responsible for investigating, prosecuting and prosecuting crimes against the financial interests of the EU. To date it has almost 2,000 open investigations, of which 47 are focused on Spain for an estimated damage of almost 322 million eurosincluding those related to the ‘Koldo’ case. Of this figure, 13 of the investigations are international in nature for damages of 126 million euros.

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