Germany Halts Some Covid Aid to Companies on Fraud Suspicions

Germany temporarily suspended certain types of aid to companies impacted by measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic, due to suspicions that the money was illegally obtained in several cases.

Payments were halted to review documentation and will resume shortly, the Economy Ministry said in a statement late Tuesday. Criminal investigations are under way in several cases, the ministry said, declining to comment on specifics of the alleged fraud.

“It’s a shame that attempts are being made here to exploit the plight of our companies in the corona crisis and to steal state aid that many urgently need,” the ministry said on its website.

Other types of aid such as bridge funding and support approved via regional authorities are proceeding as normal.

Accusations of fraud have plagued the aid programs since they were launched in the early months of the pandemic in 2020. In February, Welt am Sonntag reported about 25,000 suspected cases of fraud in connection with pandemic-related aid programs, with an estimated damage in a “significant three-digit million amount,” without saying how it had obtained the information.

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