The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) filed its first indictment in Czechia yesterday, 28 June 2022, against 3 persons and 3 legal entities accused of subsidy fraud, damage to the financial interests of the European Union and the legalisation of proceeds of criminal activity. The file consists of almost 19 000 pages.
From 2011 to 2021, the accused persons allegedly submitted specific applications for subsidies and requests for payments for the research of nanobots, without the intention of executing the subsidised projects in the required way. They are accused of providing false documentary evidence on the necessity of the projects, fictitious assessments for the evaluation of these projects, fictitious invoices, contracts and selection procedures took place.
It is thought that in total 17 subsidy projects were affected by false information, on which basis the requested subsidies were paid (in most cases). It is believed that, in order to conceal the origin of the proceeds of the criminal activity, the main suspect invested them in the personal and capital-linked business companies.
This action has caused damages to the Czech and EU budgets of around €5.5 million. There was also an attempt to cause further damages of another €5 million.
Most of the money received was used by the main accused for his private consumption, or for his investment in various cars and real estate. An investment of millions of Czech crowns into more than 8 000 model railway trains is worth mentioning, the models having been seized during the pre-trial proceedings. The value of almost €2 million was frozen on bank accounts, real estates and movable assets.
The main accused is in custody. If there will be a final court decision of guilt, the accused persons face a risk of imprisonment of up to 10 years; financial penalties are also conceivable.
During the investigation, Czechia’s National Organised Crime Agency cooperated with Czechia’s Financial Analytical Unit, Czechia’s General Financial Directorate, Czechia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Czech Technological Agency. Since most of the funds received came from European Union sources, a Czech European Delegated Prosecutor was in charge of the case. European Delegated Prosecutors from Germany and Austria were involved in the cross-border investigation. That is the first EPPO case to have been brought to judgment in Czechia.