Sunday, December 3, 2023

Fraud against Italian national health system halted with Eurojust support  

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DIPLOMAT MAGAZINE “For diplomats, by diplomats” Reaching out the world from the European Union First diplomatic publication based in The Netherlands. Founded by members of the diplomatic corps on June 19th, 2013. "Diplomat Magazine is inspiring diplomats, civil servants and academics to contribute to a free flow of ideas through an extremely rich diplomatic life, full of exclusive events and cultural exchanges, as well as by exposing profound ideas and political debates in our printed and online editions." Dr. Mayelinne De Lara, Publisher

Supported by Eurojust, judicial and law enforcement authorities in Italy and Albania have dismantled a criminal network suspected of committing fraud against the Italian national health system, as well as corruption and drug trafficking. During an action day, nine suspects were arrested. More than EUR 500 000 was seized from the suspects’ bank accounts, together with drugs with a value of EUR 20 000.

The organised crime group (OCG) allegedly operated between the Italian province of Milan and Albania. With the complicity of doctors and nurses working in Italian hospitals, the OGC offered Albanian citizens a variety of expensive and unnecessary medical services that would allow them to enter Italy illegally.

The investigation documented the issuing of false medical certifications stating that the Albanian citizens required urgent life-saving medical treatment in Italy, thereby allowing them to enter the country and receive medical and pharmaceutical services under an exemption regime. Corrupt medical practitioners allegedly cooperated with the OCG in exchange for money or sexual services.

The OCG members are also believed to be involved in trafficking drugs that they illegally obtained from the Italian national health system and sold in Albania. Some of these drugs were used to treat COVID-19 patients and were in high demand during the pandemic.

The investigations ascertained the irregular registration in the Italian national health system of at least 82 Albanian citizens between January 2020 and June 2021. These patients received at least 383 outpatient services and 1 554 specialist visits, inpatient stays and prescriptions, under a total exemption regime.

Eurojust supported the authorities in Italy and Albania with the setting up and funding of a joint investigation team (JIT) in March 2022. Two coordination meetings were also hosted by Eurojust to facilitate judicial cooperation and provide support for the coordinated investigative efforts.

During an action day on 10 June, six suspects were arrested in Italy, three suspects were placed under house arrest and one was under the obligation to sign. Authorities seized over EUR 500 000 from the suspects’ bank accounts, as well as drugs with a value of EUR 20 000.

The following authorities took part in this investigation:

•            Italy: Anti-Mafia Milan District Directorate

•            Albania: Albanian Special Anti-Corruption Structure (SPAK)

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