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On Thursday, the Hamburg Regional Court sentenced five men and women to long prison sentences for fraud with corona aid.


Rolf Vennenbernd / dpa

The Hamburg Regional Court has convicted four defendants of subsidy fraud with state corona aid amounting to millions. The Hamburg-based company had operated a sophisticated network of various bogus companies without any real business activity, for which they applied for corona aid. In order to disguise their own identity, they sometimes appointed very young men and women without specialist knowledge as company bosses. According to NDR, the presiding judge spoke of an "almost perfect crime."

The four had applied for 12.5 million euros in corona aid for the companies between April and October 2021 - three million euros were ultimately paid out. In total, the case involved more than 80 cases of commercial and gang subsidy fraud. An accountant, who had filed the applications as a so-called third party examiner, was charged with 47 cases.

Aid disbursed recovered

On Wednesday, the Hamburg Regional Court imposed long prison sentences on the defendants. The alleged main perpetrator was sentenced to ten years in prison, according to a spokesman. The remaining defendants were sentenced to prison terms of between five and ten years.

In addition to an eight-year prison sentence, the accountant also received a three-year ban on practicing his profession. A fifth defendant was sentenced to a suspended prison sentence of two years for aiding and abetting. According to the ruling, the corona aid paid out was withdrawn.

According to the indictment, the companies usually acquired the accused only shortly before the subsidy application, up to this point they worked uneconomically. Most of them were applications for so-called November and December aid in the first Corona year 2020. This was paid by the state as compensation for financial losses caused by corona protection measures during the pandemic.

The trial had begun in August last year, the accused were between 22 and 47 years old at that time. The prosecution pleaded for prison sentences of between five and eleven and a half years. With the verdict, the court fell somewhat short of the prosecution's demands. However, the verdict is not yet final.