(Luxembourg, 22 November 2023) – Two people have been arrested in an investigation into a suspected €200 000 funding fraud, led by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Vilnius (Lithuania). The arrests, as well as forty searches in different locations in Lithuania, took place on 7 November 2023, along with seizures of documents, computers, telephones and a safe. Nine other people were detained and have since been released.
According to the investigation, the suspects submitted project applications in the name of three companies to Lithuania’s National Paying Agency, in order to obtain EU and national funds. It is understood that the suspects used eight non-operating companies to simulate transactions between the applicant companies, in order to make it appear as though they had sufficient financing to apply for the projects and receive the EU funds. It is suspected that all the companies involved in this process were unofficially managed by one of the suspects.
The projects for which the suspects applied were aimed at supporting companies and start-ups in their activities and further development. All projects were primarily financed by the EU’s European structural and investment funds (ESIF).
It is estimated that in total, more than €230 000 was fraudulently obtained by the suspects and that out of this amount, €200 000 was financed by ESIF.
The investigative measures were conducted by the Financial Crime Investigation Service (FICIS) under Lithuania’s Ministry of the Interior (Finansinių nusikaltimų tyrimo tarnyba prie Lietuvos Respublikos vidaus reikalų ministerijos).
The EPPO is the independent public prosecution office of the European Union. It is responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment crimes against the financial interests of the EU.