The first case involving the fraudulent theft of millions from German taxpayers for carrying out coronavirus tests that never took place has been filed by prosecutors after a local media investigation exposed widespread alleged fraud.
Germany spent around EUR 3 billion (GBP 2.5 billion) for the quick testing service with private operators with no controls in place to see if the testing actually took place, and as a result, dozens of private operators are now being investigated on suspicion of having invoiced for testing that never happened.
The first case involves a father and son who have been charged with stealing EUR 25 million (GBP 21 million) by overbilling the German taxpayer for coronavirus tests.
Public prosecutors in Bochum, which is a city in western Germany in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, registered the case with the local court which will now have to decide whether it goes to a full trial.
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung which was one of the newspapers that helped expose the alleged scandal partially names the two defendants as businessman Oguzhan C., who was effectively the boss of the Medican company, and Sertac C, his son, who in name at least was managing director.
The newspaper reports that Medican operated 54 test centres in 36 cities in Germany.
Sueddeutsche Zeitung carried out the investigation together with NDR and WDR, and the media groups arranged for reporters to be based all day outside test centres and to count the number of patients.
These turned out to be far lower than the numbers recorded in the internal database of the state of North Rhine Westphalia.
The reporters were given access to the database, to compare the data after which the alleged scam was exposed.
The police later raided the company’s offices as well as the private homes of the father and son, and both were remanded in custody, although the younger man was later released on bail.
Incorrect billing for test sites in multiple German cities is said to have cost the German taxpayer at least EUR 25 million (GBP 21 million).
The prosecution claims that over 900,000 tests were billed by the company even though they were not necessary.
The pair are suspected of trying to enrich themselves personally with public funds of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The allegation according to prosecutors is that the amounts invoiced were multiple times higher than the real number of tests carried out. The company is also alleged to have invented other costs which they never incurred.
It was not revealed when the court will make a decision on the trial. but the investigation is one of at least 94 similar investigations looking at the operators of test centres over possible fraud.
The number was based only on the regions that replied, with many regions not even confirming whether they have additional investigations going on.
In almost every case it is related to claiming for more tests than we really carried out.