Today, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) moved against an organized criminal group active in Romania and Austria. Since early this morning, 160 house searches are ongoing, including at the homes of some civil servants and headquarters of public institutions, as a part of an ongoing investigation of 6 months into alleged fraud concerning European and Romanian funds of more than €5 million, laundered through a complex financial mechanism. About 30 people will be brought in for questioning.
In the course of this investigation, started 6 months ago, we discovered that, since 2017, an organised criminal group has set up more than 150 fictitious companies and used them to fraudulently obtain European and national funding.
These companies applied for public funding to purchase equipment or goods for the day-to-day operations, based on inaccurate, incomplete or false documents, or used fictitious invoices for the purchase of fixed assets, equipment or goods. In most cases, the equipment or goods listed as purchased within the projects were not actually purchased, the same equipment or goods being used in several projects.
The sums obtained from the budget of the European Union and from the national budget by the respective companies were usually withdrawn in cash from ATMs by various persons from the entourage of the organised group members, after which they were handed over to them. Subsequently, the sums were used for the purchase of goods or services on behalf of other natural or legal persons to conceal the illicit origin.
The investigation has been carried out with the support of police officers from the EPPO Support Structure in Romania, police officers from Timisoara Organised Crime Brigade and police officers from General Anti-Corruption Directorate within the Romanian Ministry of Interior (Central Structure and Operational Centers Cluj and Timisoara).
The ongoing house searches are mobilising hundreds of police officers from the Organised Crime Directorate [Directia de Combatere a Criminalității Organizate din cadrul IGPR], the General Anti-Corruption Directorate within the Romanian Ministry of Interior [Direcția Generală Anticorupție din M.A.I.], the Timișoara Special Operations Brigade as well as officers from the Romanian Gendarmerie [Brigada Speciala de Interventie a Jandarmeriei Romane, Inspectoratul de Jandarmi Timiș și Gruparea Mobilă de Jandarmi Glad Voievod Timișoara], and Austrian investigating authorities.
Related: a video by the Romanian Police: