Italy, the country of squandering, seems to have always new ridges to explore, twilight zones where incredible things occur in plain sight, and that make huge profits almost with no controls at all. Every so often a machination comes out, such as the one we are going to tell below, in which a simple employee of the Italian Local Health Authority has been able to make 4 and a half million euros disappear over the years. Yet, who knows how many of them are still there and weight heavily on the Italian State budget which is asphyxiated enough by the State’s inability to manage the Ordinary, its inadequate political class and a population that, in part, contributes to this downfall.
This case has been tracked by the forces of order due to a complaint from an honest health employee who was asked by the revenue agency to pay taxes on sums of money he had never perceived. Therefrom the investigations, the criminal sentence and, now, the claim for compensation by the Court of Auditors. But how is it possible for a single person, in an obscure accounting office, to take possess of over 4 million euros and get away with it for years? The story begins in the industrious Veneto region, more specifically in Treviso where – as the judges accountants write in the sentence n. 176/2015 Legal Section of the Veneto region – an employee has “subtracted systematically and for many years a very high sum of money, with no controls at all by the subjects who were supposed to monitor her working activity”.
The woman was responsible for accounting and, by introducing in the computer system registration numbers that actually corresponded to doctors in service or even out of service, transferred money to her family members and friends. Not small one-off transfers, but entire salaries, even over 4.5000 euros per month. Even her mother had been inserted among the beneficiaries, as if she were a doctor working at the Local Health Authority.
Moreover, not entirely satisfied with the money she had already stolen to the community, when she had the possibility to do so, the unfaithful employee introduced also substantial production bonuses for her relatives and similar characters (all of whom were “obviously” external to the National Health System). The information system was deceived because the registration numbers actually existed, whereas the recipients of the bank transfers changed every time. The perverse mechanism was more or less the following: she invented inexistent services and working hours, then inserted in the system the registration number of a doctor while at the same time introducing the bank account of a different person as the recipient of the transfer. This trick had worked smoothly at least from 1999 till 2007. When it began to ‘squeak’.
In the meantime, Arsenio Lupin wearing a skirt, ventured also in daring paper accounting operations, not only informational ones. Just to get more money; she cut out from printed documentation relating to the salaries of single doctors in service the row with the amounts, and glued them in the same part in the documents of fake doctors. Then, the document was photocopied and attached to the note of liquidation. A slap in the face of internal controls of the services.
This process, which had begun at the Service Reports Management in convention, was completed with the finishing point of the phases of competence of the Economic and Financial Service. In this double checking phase, however, nobody has ever noticed anything for years. Not even when the name of the unfaithful employee’s mothe was first the receiver of reimbursements for treatments in Italy and abroad and then suddenly transformed into the recipient of a monthly salary – a system that kept working for nine years – for a total amount of one million and 330 thousand euros. During the same period she has been also the recipient of two production bonuses.
If those money were not stolen from the coffers of public health, one could have smiled at this story, taking it ironically: in fact, the industriousness of the employee cannot be questioned: she had really been toiling those years.