Romanian businessman and company indicted for EU funds fraud, money laundering in EPPO case
A Romanian businessman and a company he represented were indicted at the Bucharest Tribunal in an EU funds fraud case investigated by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO).
The damages are estimated at over EUR 3 million, representing EU funds fraudulently obtained for the development of RECUMED, a research-development centre in medical recovery and bio reconstruction. Moreover, EPPO said it also suspects that, in addition to the fraud against the EU’s financial interests, the company that wrongfully obtained the project and their representative also laundered money after receiving the funds.
According to G4media.ro, the investigation targets local businessman Cătălin Hideg and the company Sanimed Internațional Impex SRL.
“To win a tender for RECUMED, a European Union-funded project for the creation of a research-development centre in medical recovery and bio reconstruction, the businessman presented several false and inaccurate declarations and documents. These related to the procedure for awarding the contract for the supply of medical equipment, and for the construction work necessary to carry out the project. He then successfully received, between 2018 and 2020, non-refundable grants amounting to over EUR 3 million,” the EPPO said.
The suspects also had an accomplice, the European Prosecutor’s Office also said, mentioning the representative of a Spanish company that would supply the medical recovery centre with equipment and carry out the construction work.
“Both suspects are thought to have drawn up false declarations to prove that they had no conflict of interest with the company the other represented, and consequently appeared to comply with the legal provisions governing the principles of transparency, legality and competitiveness of a procurement procedure,” the EPPO explained.
Moreover, they also allegedly simulated the procedure for awarding the contract by submitting fictitious counter-offers in the name of other companies and false documents showing that the Spanish company met the eligibility conditions for proof of technical capacity to perform the contract.
And things didn’t stop there, the European prosecutors said. After getting the EU funds, the Romanian company transferred the money to the banking accounts of Spanish companies. Then, the money was moved to other companies based in Cyprus and Portugal, and a large part of it was ultimately redirected back to the accounts of the initial beneficiary in Romania through fake invoices.
“The investigations carried out showed that the real purchase value of medical equipment and products related to the execution of the project was approximately four times lower than the purchase value declared under the project, and that the initial purchase prices were negotiated and established by the first suspect himself. The value of the medical products was overestimated by their successive transactions from the initial suppliers through companies in Cyprus, Portugal and Spain so that they would ultimately be sold to the initial Romanian beneficiary at the overvalued price,” reads the EPPO statement.
According to the same source, the second person who acted as an accomplice to the fraud scheme concluded a plea bargain on September 20 this year. The penalty was set at three years in prison, suspended to a period of supervision of four years as he pleaded guilty.
The plea agreement was referred to the Bucharest Tribunal, awaiting a final judgment.
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