Last Thursday (9 March 2023), following an investigation by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Bucharest, three suspects were caught in the act when receiving around €70 000 (RON 350 000) in cash as part of the profit of their supposed fraud. On that same date, 10 house searches were carried out in five counties of Romania, to gather more evidence about the three suspects and their respective companies.
The suspects are believed to have fraudulently obtained a contract for a €1 million project concerning the acquisition of IT equipment and software, under the EU’s Regional Operational Programme 2014-2020, which was partly funded by the European Structural and Investment Funds. The project beneficiary is accused of having used false documents – issued by companies controlled by its representatives – in order to obtain the financing and project implementation based on inflated equipment costs, thereby acquiring sums of money that ensured both the co-financing of the project and personal profits.
On Friday (10 March 2023), the two main defendants were detained for 24 hours, and the judge from the Bucharest Tribunal ordered their placement under judicial control for 30 days. The EPPO’s prosecutors contested this decision at the Bucharest Court of Appeal, with a request for the preventive arrest of the defendants.
The investigation was carried out with the support of police officers from: the EPPO Support Structure in Romania; Romania’s Department of Special Operations; the Bucharest General Police Directorate – Bucharest Economic Crime Investigation Service and Forensic Service; Bacău Economic Crime Investigation Service; Cluj Organised Crime Brigade; Dolj County Police Inspectorate, Special Gendarmerie Intervention Brigade.