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German man held for swindling €15m in COVID-19 benefits

Published : 03 Aug 2020, 23:38

  DF News Desk

File Photo Xinhua.

Germany had uncovered a fraud involving COVID-19 emergency aid and short-time work benefits totaling 15 million euros, local authorities said Monday in a joint press statement, reported Xinhua.

A 36-year-old suspect had illegally claimed and received 7.4 million euros (8.7 million U.S. dollars), said the public prosecutor's office in the northern Germany city of Luebeck and the main customs office in the northern town of Itzehoe in the statement.

The approval of a further 7.6 million euros was stopped during the ongoing investigation, said the statement.

The man who ran a consulting firm in Hamburg was suspected of having unlawfully applied for COVID-19 state aid in at least 90 cases by using social security data of people from all over Germany which he had "unlawfully acquired in the course of his work," according to authorities.

The suspect had been arrested four weeks ago and had been remanded in custody due to the urgent suspicion of fraud in a "particularly serious case" and due to the risk of recurrence, authorities noted.

During a search of residential and business premises of the main suspect four weeks ago, German investigators had seized pieces of evidence.

"The first sighting of this evidence confirmed the suspicion against the accused and provided indications of other as yet unknown suspected cases." According to German authorities, the suspect did not comment on the accusations.