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Romania: Businessman and company indicted for fraud, money laundering, damages of over €3 million in EU funds

Christian Fernsby |
A Romanian businessman and a company he represented were indicted at the Bucharest Tribunal (county court) for fraudulently obtaining over €3 million in EU funds for the development of RECUMED, a research-development centre in medical recovery and bio reconstruction.

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The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Bucharest is leading the investigation, and 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.

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 the award of 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 €3 million.

Yet, the suspect did not act alone and had an accomplice, who was the representative of a Spanish company that would supply the medical recovery centre with equipment, and to 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.

Moreover, the procedure for awarding the contract was simulated by the submission of fictitious counter-offers in the name of other commercial companies, and by the submission of false documents showing that the Spanish company met the conditions of eligibility for proof of technical capacity to perform the contract.

However, the investigation indicates that the suspects did not stop there. After obtaining the EU funds, the Romanian company transferred the money obtained for the project to the banking accounts of Spanish companies.

The money was then transferred 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 the issuance of 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.

The second (natural) person who acted as an accomplice to the fraud scheme concluded a plea bargain on 20 September 2022. The penalty was set at 3 years in prison, which was suspended to a period of supervision of 4 years as he pleaded guilty. The plea agreement was referred to the Bucharest Tribunal and a final judgment is awaited.

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