Over 5,000 controls undertaken by Financial Police in the fight against social security fraud
Between 2017 and the first half of 2020, over 5,000 controls were conducted under the Austrian Act on Wage and Social Dumping. There followed from this over 10,000 criminal charges, most of which (2,375) were in Upper Austria. A particularly flagrant case of social security fraud occurred in Linz, where 20 illegal workers were found to be employed in a single location. In addition, since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, the Financial Police have audited 9,286 businesses in the context of short-time working controls. As a result, 150 suspected cases of infringement were identified.
According to Finance Minister Gernot Blümel, "The controls on short-time working show that the vast majority of domestic business operators are complying with the law. However, we intend to show no tolerance, and take decisive action against the minority who are attempting to abuse the system at the expense of taxpayers."
A case recently uncovered in Linz drew particular attention. In response to a complaint, on 13 October a construction site in Ennshafen was investigated. The findings were shocking: all 20 Polish workers encountered there were employed illegally, and moreover, the suspicion also exists that they have been vastly underpaid. The firm's proprietors had awarded a contract for industrial assembly work to an Austrian company, which in turn instructed a Polish subcontractor.
The company can expect to have penalties imposed of up to EUR 20,000 for failing to provide documentation and, for underpayment of wages, a criminal sanction of between EUR 2,000 and EUR 20,000 per employee.
"The profiteering by the contractor at the cost of the welfare of workers is in this case particularly blatant. On top of the human suffering, in addition, the state has been defrauded in terms of numerous taxes and levies. Through the swift intervention of the Financial Police, it has been possible to prevent something even worse," added Finance Minister Blümel.