Lack of checks on coronavirus support has led to massive fraud: NRC


The lack of checks on coronavirus support requests last year allowed fraudsters to get away with millions of euros, with little prospect of clawing back the cash, investigators with the public prosecution department have told the NRC.

Marjolein Verwiel and Nelleke Klip are particularly critical of the TVL ruling, which allowed companies to claim help with paying their fixed costs.

The government paid an advance, often running into tens of thousands of euros, based on information that companies filled in themselves, without a check on pre-2020 turnover or proper controls on the ID of the person making the request.

Some of the claims were submitted by organised gangs who recruited companies via Telegram or even online auction house Marktplaats, the officials say.

‘Everything focused on paying an advance quickly… and looking later if it was justified,’ Klip said.

The government department in charge of the scheme has so far signed off on 1,133 formal complaints of fraud, involving €60m in TVL-based theft. The total bill for the scheme so far tops €4bn and TVL was claimed by 240,000 companies.

So far, the RVO has made 570 applications to bailiffs to recover money which had been fraudulently claimed but has booked success in just seven cases.

‘It was so easy to get the money,’ said Verwiel. ‘It was just thrown around… and we are seeing just the tip of the iceberg’.

The rules have been toughened up since April this year.

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