Italy, 10 arrested over 'fake contracts for stay permits'

29 June, 09:00

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, 29 GIU - Finance police on Monday (June 27) arrested 10 people in the southern region of Puglia on charges of aiding and abetting illegal immigration and fraud.

    The suspects allegedly prepared fake job contracts that were signed by 453 migrants in exchange for a stay permit in Italy.

    BARI - Ten people arrested on Monday by tax police in Puglia allegedly prepared fake job contracts in the construction sector for 453 non-EU citizens from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan in exchange for a residency permit. The migrants were required to pay between 1,000 and 6,000 euros as part of the scam, investigative sources said. The suspects were arrested in the province of Bari on charges of aiding and abetting illegal immigration and aggravated fraud. Two people were jailed: Maurizio Pappadopoli, a 49-year-old accountant from Mola di Bari; and 55-year-old Tanay Bhattacharajee, an Indian citizen who manages an immigration center 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 being probed, along with the 453 fake employees. Police are investigating the regularity of the immigrants' stay permits obtained thanks to the alleged fraud conceived by Pappadopoli. Assets worth a total of 1.1 million euros were also seized from the suspects under investigation.

    Financial exploitation of incapacitated person among charges.

    The alleged crimes at the center of the investigation concern a period between 2013 and 2019. The sums of money paid by the fake employees allowed the alleged criminal organization to make an illicit profit estimated to be around 762,000 euros, also defrauding the State of undue unemployment benefits and sick leave, as well as income-tax IRPEF reimbursements worth a further 280,000 euros. The investigation was carried out in cooperation with INPS social security inspectors and the immigration office of Bari's police headquarters. Investigators also reported a case of financial exploitation of an incapacitated person. Wiretapped conversations, in fact, revealed that one of the entrepreneurs under investigation, with the help of family members, convinced an elderly aunt to gift him money to buy a luxury car, investigative sources said. The car was seized by police.

    'Professionals-criminals connection poisons social life', prosecutor "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", he said. The immigrants involved in the probe, when questioned by police, confirmed that they signed the contracts without working, revealing that they had to pay to get a contract and subsequently a stay permit. "The action of finance police proves its constant commitment in the fight against illicit access to State benefits, a guarantee for the effective supportof the weakest part of the population, particularly damaged by the economic and social crisis that followed the pandemic emergency", the prosecutor concluded.

    (Finance police in Sardinia. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/ANSA/ GUARDIA DI FINANZA). (ANSAmed).

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