Finance police arrested ten people in the southern region of Puglia on charges of aiding and abetting illegal immigration and fraud. The suspects allegedly issued fake job contracts to over 400 migrants so they could secure stay permits.
Ten people were arrested on Monday (June 27) by police in the region of Puglia, southern Italy. They allegedly issued fake contracts for jobs in the construction sector to 453 non-EU citizens from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The migrants were required to pay between €1,000 and €6,000, investigative sources said.
The suspects have been charged with aiding and abetting illegal immigration and aggravated fraud.
Suspects: Accountant, immigration agency head, business people
Two people were jailed: Maurizio P., a 49-year-old Italian accountant from Mola di Bari, is alleged to have been the ringleader. 55-year-old Indian citizen Tanay B. manages an immigration agency and is accused of working as an intermediary.
The other eight suspects were placed under house arrest. They are all entrepreneurs who allegedly provided fake job contracts in exchange for money or the promise of money.
Six additional businessmen are reportedly being investigated, along with the migrants who allegedly paid for fake contracts.
Assets worth a total of €1.1 million were also seized from the suspects under investigation. The alleged crimes at the center of the investigation reportedly took place between 2013 and 2019.
Over €1 million in alleged defraud
The fake contract scheme allowed the group to make around €762,000 euros, according to investigators. The suspects allegedly also defrauded the state of unemployment and sick leave benefits as well as income-tax IRPEF reimbursements worth a further €280,000.
The immigrants involved in the probe, when questioned by police, reportedly confirmed that they signed the contracts without working, revealing that they had to pay to get a contract and subsequently a stay permit.
The investigation was carried out by finance police in cooperation with INPS social security inspectors and the immigration office of Bari's police headquarters.
"We are trying to have an impact on the connection that exists between organized crime, professionals and entrepreneurs who benefit from criminality", said Bari prosecutor, Roberto Rossi, outlining the details of the operation on Monday. "This connection legitimizes crime to poison and interfere with social life, governing some social and economic dynamics."