Two suspects have been arrested in the Netherlands this morning, 16 March 2023, on suspicion of committing fraud in order to obtain EU subsidies amounting to €500 000. The arrests took place in Eindhoven and Roermond, and were made by the Netherlands Labour Authority (Arbeidsinspectie), at the request of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO).
The suspects were the owners of a consultancy firm in Eindhoven, which helped companies with their applications for EU subsidies for sustainable employability. These funds, distributed by the EU’s European Social Fund (ESF), would allow companies to provide training to staff to keep their health and motivation at a high level. The hiring of a consultant or consultancy firm was one of the requirements for the subsidy application, which had to be filed with the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs. In this case, the consultancy firm also provided the actual training courses.
It is alleged that on multiple occasions, the suspects doubled the number of activities performed on their invoices. In so doing, the false invoices artificially inflated the amount requested in the subsidy application. To hide the fraud, the consultancy firm is suspected of using counter-invoices. In this way, a subsidy was claimed from the ESF, to which there would be no or a lower entitlement. The consultancy firm has been bankrupt for some time, and the owners have now been arrested.
Two additional searches took place in Eindhoven and in Hamont-Achel (Belgium) this morning. Laptops, hard drives, luxury watches and documents were seized during those searches, just as a house in Hamont-Achel.