Company X and Company Y were believed to be essentially the same entity. They applied for ESF co-financing for 3 projects, in the North-West region of the member state, using documents which had been forged by the legal representative, Firm A. The falsified documents included counterfeit Fiscal Certificates,
Further investigation by the National Anti-Fraud office uncovered an additional 14 grant applications for EU funding, with a combined total value of €7,000,000, was submitted by Company X throughout the regional programmes of other regions of the member state. Company X had obtained the pre-financing of €850,000 for these 14 projects. These pre-financing payments were rapidly spent on costs (e.g. rents of offices, IT equipment) which were not foreseen by the initial budget.
Firm A presented a series of false documents to the intermediate body, to justify how the pre-financing payment was spent. These documents included:
- reimbursement requests for the expenses, bearing the stamp and falsified signature of the accountant expert;
- contracts concluded with various companies;
- invoices for cash transactions from suppliers or service providers;
- acceptance notes regarding the receipt of goods;
- files from the cash registers, to justify cash payments;
- payrolls which seemed signed by some employees within the project;
- lists with the projects’ locations, presented to the representatives of the Managing Authority in order to prevent the carrying out of on-the-spot controls;
- technical–financial reports to demonstrate the fulfillment of activities.
Firm A had stolen the funds in small amounts and forged the above-mentioned documents with the project managers and accountant. The accountant used documents and legal stamps of companies she was associated with, to forge some of the documents. None of the companies actually signed the documents or did the work. Minimal progress was made towards the fulfillment of any tasks linked to the implementation of the projects. Firm A misused funds totaling €215,000 obtained as pre-financing, by making payments for goods and services that were not related to the project implementation.