APolice in Italy, Austria, Romania and Slovakia today detained 22 people as part of an investigation into the alleged embezzlement of 600 million euros in European Union (EU) post-pandemic aid funds.

This amount was part of the Italian post-Covid-19 pandemic funds, announced the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO).

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office suspects that a criminal organization has embezzled non-refundable funds from the Italian Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR) between 2021 and 2023.

According to the investigation, the fraud was perpetrated by a “criminal group” with the help of several front men and four businessmen.

The Italian program is financed by the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Mechanism, a multi-billion euro plan that was designed to help European bloc countries breathe new life into their economies devastated by the new coronavirus.

According to EU data, Italy’s national recovery and resilience plan is the largest in the bloc, worth €194.4 billion in grants and loans, representing 10.8% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). of the country in 2019.

EPPO said Italian tax police executed a freezing order issued by the investigating judge on assets worth more than 600 million euros.

“With the support of law enforcement agencies from the other Member States involved, 22 people were arrested in Italy, Austria, Romania and Slovakia,” the European Public Prosecutor’s Office said.

In total, eight people were placed in preventive detention, 14 were placed under house arrest and two were banned from carrying out commercial activities.

Assets worth 600 million euros were seized from all of them, including homes, “significant sums” of cryptocurrencies, high-end watches, jewelry, gold and luxury cars. According to foreign media, among the seizures were Rolex watches, gold, jewelry, as well as several cars, including a Lamborghini, a Porsche and an Audi Q8.

The plan will have involved, in the first phase, several projects worth “tens of millions” of euros financed by the PNRR in the sectors of digitalization of the production system provided by the company SIMEST, which belongs to the public bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and which helps Italian companies to internationalize.

SIMEST, according to the tax police statement, provided assistance to the financial authorities during the investigations.

Later, the investigation revealed that the same organization, often through the same companies, created non-existent credits for the construction sector, attracting subsidies for the renovation of facades and for supporting the capitalization of companies worth around 600 million euros.

Authorities discovered a money laundering scheme through a “complex and articulated” network of shell companies in Austria, Slovakia and Romania.

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Source: https://www.noticiasaominuto.com/mundo/2534021/operacao-detem-22-suspeitos-de-fraude-com-apoios-europeus-em-italia

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