A still from a video released by the Italian police on the dismantling of an illegal ring involved in fraudulent papers to get stay permits | Photo: ANSA/Polizia di Stato
A still from a video released by the Italian police on the dismantling of an illegal ring involved in fraudulent papers to get stay permits | Photo: ANSA/Polizia di Stato

The Italian authorities have discovered a cleaning cooperative in northern Italy that falsified documents in order to obtain working papers for 162 foreign nationals. The cooperative had been allegedly evading taxes entirely since it was set up.

In northern Italy, the Vicenza Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza) announced Friday, April 10 that it had completed an investigation into a cleaning cooperative headquartered in Marano Vicentino. The cooperative had allegedly falsified work contracts for 162 foreign nationals.

The cooperative obtained working papers for the foreigners but had evaded taxes entirely since it was set up in 2009. The two de facto managers of the cooperative, Moroccan brothers with the initials A.J. (53) and K.J. (43), have been put under investigation for aiding and abetting clandestine migration, forgery, and other crimes.  The remaining 160 using the false papers were reported for clandestine migration and forgery in complicity with the managers.

Workers from North Africa, Ghana, India and Bangladesh

The cooperative, which was officially registered under the name of a third brother, had not filed tax statements for direct taxes or for VAT but had filed statements for the personnel attesting to the existence of hundreds of work contracts. It was found to have not paid the €600,000 in social security which it owed the Italian state.

The workers that were part of the cooperative - mainly other Moroccans but also nationals of Algeria, Tunisia, Ghana, India and Bangladesh - received fraudulent pay checks and contracts. The documentation was used to deceive officials involved in the issuing and renewal of stay permits for the foreigners.

Rates for fake work contracts

The authorities said that the work contracts had, on paper, always started a few weeks or days prior to the expiration of the stay permits. None of the workers knew the name of the cooperative, the legal representative, the location of the headquarters, or their position as worker.

There was a rate scale for the issuing of fraudulent pay checks and work contracts: 500-800 euros for contracts and 100-150 euros for every pay check issued. The only Italian citizen officially "hired" was the wife of a Moroccan national. The work contract in this case served to justify family reunification for her in-laws from Morocco.
 

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