Massive fraud discovered of French state payments to furloughed staff

Paris prosecutors have announced the opening of a nationwide investigation into fraudulent claims, amounting to  millions of euros, by organised crime gangs for state payment of salaries for employees furloughed by the Covid-19 epidemic during the two-month lockdown on public movement in France which began mid-March.

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Organized crime groups sought to defraud the French state of millions of euros meant for workers left jobless by the virus lockdown, prosecutors said Friday, reports ABC News.

France had an exceptionally generous temporary unemployment scheme that subsidized workers’ salaries while restaurants, schools and businesses across the economy shut down for two months or more to contain the virus.

Criminals took advantage of it, successfully obtaining more than 2 million euros from the state that did not go to workers, the Paris prosecutor’s office said in a statement. Authorities so far have been able to suspend another 6 million euros in scheduled payments and recover 421,000 euros already spent on nonexistent workers, it said.

The Paris prosecutor's office is now leading a nationwide investigation into what it calls “massive fraud” and money laundering by organized crime groups that it did not identify. It is notably investigating potential international connections to the fraud.

Read more of this AP report published by ABC News.

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