The network was also linked to the drug trade. Finance Ministry section chief Hans-Georg Kramer said it was a “textbook case for organised tax crime”.
The alarm was raised when it was noticed that the company had an extremely high number of bogus social security registrations. Around 25 percent of the business’s ‘employees’ never worked and claimed unemployment benefits.
Any actual employees were paid in cash, and didn’t pay tax or social insurance contributions.
Two ‘runners’ for the company paid people in bars in Vienna to fill out health insurance applications – so that the company could fraudulently claim social benefits on their behalf.
Four people have already been sentenced, each to between 10 and 28 months in prison. They are between 55 and 60-years-old and are all Austrian, according to investigators.
They were convicted of fraud, forgery, and trafficking in narcotic substances. The only asset that the police have been able to seize so far is a car.
One of the two main perpetrators was a professional accountant who came to the authorities’ attention because of "apparent inconsistencies in registering employees," Kramer said.
The accountant set up countless bogus companies, according to documents from the Interior and Finance ministries – but he was not particularly creative in naming them – with at least 54 companies named according to the alphabet – A Gmbh, A2 Gmbh, and so on.