Corona aid - hardly any cases of fraud with Covid-19 subsidies

The financial police have so far carried out more than 10.000 checks on Covid 19 subsidies at companies. Around 290 specific cases of suspected fraud were identified and reported, said the head of the financial police, Wilfried Lehner, on Thursday. The rather low number of advertisements is also due to the fact that companies can still intervene for a relatively long time after registering short-time work, but the accounting must be correct. In addition, controls had a preventive effect.

Short-time work: Lots of advertisements from employees

The promotion of short-time work is one of the most expensive Corona relief measures, said Lehner at an event of the BMD Academy. Potential fraud with short-time work is often reported to the financial police by those affected: There are relatively many reports from the employees or their relatives, who are annoyed that someone has to work around the clock, even though they are allegedly on short-time work.

The controls by the financial police at companies are always unannounced, explained Lehner. Employees and employers are interviewed when checking short-time working funds. The working time records are checked, which according to the law must always be timely and traceable. “There is hardly any other area that we have as great difficulties as with time and attendance records, it is where most of the trickery is done,” said the chief financial officer.

Incomprehensible work time records

During the audit, the employees would be asked how they record their working hours, and the employer would determine how he would randomly check the specified working hours. If the financial police are only presented with a finished Excel list of the working hours, without documents such as slips of paper or emails about their occurrence, this is not enough. "There has to be a real-time record of working hours, which I cannot replace by making a cumulative version at the end and letting the employee sign it," explained Lehner. The companies would have to keep the relevant documents for 10 years, this is stipulated in the funding guidelines.

The financial police are also looking to see whether the conditions for short-time work subsidies exist at all. If a company actually had an increase in sales and still applied short-time work, that would be inadmissible. As an example of obvious misuse of subsidies, he gave a booming company, where some employees were actually sent on short-time work, but black workers were employed in their place to process the orders. (apa)