Millions of fraud in Vorarlberg state hospitals

Millions of fraud in Vorarlberg state hospitals

Several KHBG employees are said to have issued manipulated invoices for construction projects. (Symbolic image)

One year after the fraud scandal, in which employees of the construction department of the Vorarlberg Hospital Operating Company (KHBG) and Siemens are among those involved, became public, the Feldkirch public prosecutor’s office has now handed over the investigation to the Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA).

It is assumed that the damages amount to more than five million euros, which automatically makes the WKStA responsible, said Feldkirch authority spokesman Heinz Rusch on Friday. The fraud case became public knowledge at the beginning of August 2023, when several arrests were made following a report as a result of a compliance audit at Siemens. There were also house searches, including in the construction department of the KHBG.

Manipulated invoices

In addition to a Siemens manager, two then-active and one retired KHBG employees were affected by the investigation. Since 2013, they are said to have issued manipulated invoices for KHBG expansion and new construction projects through their own company. This resulted in several voluntary disclosures, and a total of twelve people are listed as suspects.

Just a week ago, KHBG managing director Gerald Fleisch informed the state-owned company about the status of the investigation, and even a year after the case came to light, there was still no end in sight to the investigation. Apparently, the accused hid items that were difficult to verify in invoices for small and medium-sized construction projects using “fanciful” names in order to then divert the money. It is assumed that there are several hundred individual cases.

The KHBG is one of the main victims, but only one of several companies. The damage cannot be precisely quantified, but the KHBG is expected to be in the “mid-single-digit million range,” which will in all probability be covered by the funds deposited by the twelve accused, said Fleisch. According to a report in the Vorarlberger Nachrichten (Friday), State Health Minister Martina Rüscher (VP) did not rule out possible damage to taxpayers in response to a query from the SPÖ, as delays in ongoing construction projects could result in additional costs that cannot yet be quantified.

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Source: Nachrichten

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