Finance Minister Blümel: “Times of crisis are not a legal void. Hence zero tolerance for misuse of subsidies.”
“We have spread a protective screen of 38 billion euros over our economy to safeguard jobs and the location. Times of crisis are not a legal void. We help all those who need our help and show no tolerance for those who want to enrich themselves in the crisis. Therefore, we will closely examine the appropriateness of the payouts, and punish any abuse as before. I have therefore ordered that from now on the Financial Police focus on controlling for abuses of the short-time work regulations,” said Finance Minister Gernot Blümel.
The risk analyses of the Financial Police show that currently more and more companies are also registering short-time work in those sectors and areas where there is no comprehensible reason for short-time work. At the same time, there is an increasing number of reports from affected employees about companies that have registered short-time work and either force their employees to enter their own working time incorrectly, or falsify the working time after the employee has entered it. The Financial Police will therefore start focused checks based on these developments and will consistently follow up both the reports and the results of its own risk analyses. “With the new short-time working model, we have introduced a very good measure that is unprecedented in Europe. This system is intended to be attractive for employers who would otherwise have to dismiss employees. Companies that want to enrich themselves with tax money at the expense of the general public are not the target group of this instrument. Therefore, zero tolerance for short-time work fraudsters,” said Blümel.
Across Austria, about 350 Financial Police officers are deployed for these focused checks. There is close coordination with the AMS (Public Employment Service Austria) regarding the controls, and the findings of the Financial Police are directly forwarded to the AMS. Offending companies are threatened with massive penalties: Depending on the form of the offence, the penalty for tax evasion can be a heavy fine of up to twice the amount evaded plus up to four years in prison. Subsidy fraud is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and additionally severe penalties for forgery of documents may be imposed. Checks will not be carried out without prior suspicion and risk analysis, and should under no circumstances place an unnecessary burden on honest companies.
The controls of the Financial Police will of course be carried out in strict compliance with the distance and hygiene regulations within the framework of the Covid-19 laws.