News€600m Covid Fraud: Over 20 Suspects Arrested As EU Police Conduct Massive...

€600m Covid Fraud: Over 20 Suspects Arrested As EU Police Conduct Massive Raid, Seize Lamborghini, Rolexes

GTBCO FOOD DRINL

April 04, (THEWILL) – More than 20 suspects have been arrested in Italy, Austria, Romania and Slovakia on Thursday, following a raid by the Police as part of a major investigation into massive fraud linked to the EU’s post-pandemic recovery fund.

Thursday’s operations cut across Europe with the involvement of police forces in Slovakia, Romania and Austria, and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO).

The Police raided homes and businesses, seized and freezed assets, including apartments and villas, cryptocurrency, Rolex watches, gold and jewelry, as well as a Lamborghini, a Porsche and an Audi Q8.

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At the request of EU prosecutors, 150 officers from fraud and financial police units detained eight people, while another 14 were placed under house arrest following a cross-border probe into an alleged criminal organisation suspected of defrauding €600 million from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) for Italy.

Police said the alleged fraud was carried out by a criminal association, including professionals with experience in applying for public funding, who helped secure cash for projects worth tens of millions of euros that were meant to improve competitiveness and digitalisation in Italian companies.

Financial police reconstructed suspicious transactions and identified “the laundering of huge illicit profits carried out through a complex network of fictitious companies cleverly set up in Italy, Austria, Slovakia and Romania,” Italy’s financial police said in a statement on Thursday.

The group used a “refined money-laundering apparatus, using advanced technologies such as cloud servers located in uncooperative countries, cryptoassets, and artificial intelligence to produce false documents.”

Italy is the largest beneficiary of the EU’s post-Covid economic recovery fund, with €191.5 billion in grants and loans to manage and spend. The country is under particular surveillance by prosecutors for its management of the recovery fund, with 179 open investigations into its use of the cash.

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