Corona aid: What are the penalties for providing false information?

Corona aid: What are the penalties for providing false information?

In the context of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, many companies are facing economic losses, loss of sales or, in sectors such as the tourism industry, often even a complete lack of income. In particular, the lockdowns that have been imposed to prevent the further spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are hitting entrepreneurs and business owners hard.

The German government has adopted various measures to specifically support these companies and their employees. These measures include emergency financial aid, loan programs, short-time working allowances and tax breaks to maintain liquidity.

For many companies and employers, this support is necessary in order to survive. They must be applied for correctly using various forms. There are various pitfalls and there are considerable penalties for errors or deliberate misrepresentation. In this article, we want to give you an overview of the relevant criminal offenses and the specific consequences of providing false information about coronavirus aid.

Important tips and information on applying for corona aid in our summary:

  • False information or incorrect figures in the application form for Corona aid can quickly lead to criminal liability if they are in your favor!

  • In the case of emergency financial aid, tax concessions or a subsidized loan, Section 264 (1) No. 1 of the German Criminal Code (StGB) applies to subsidy fraud in the event of false statements!

  • You may be liable to prosecution for fraud if you provide false information about short-time working benefits!

  • You may face severe fines or imprisonment if you provide incorrect or false information when applying for coronavirus aid!

  • Be careful and conscientious when applying for Corona aid, check your details!

  • If you are unsure about applying for coronavirus assistance or are facing problems, be sure to seek outside expertise to avoid criminal liability!

Contact our tax and law firm now:

06173 - 318 170

Rudolf-Diesel-Str. 5, 65760 Eschborn near Frankfurt

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1. when could subsidy fraud be present?

The government's aid programs in the corona pandemic are government subsidies for your company in the case of the emergency financial aid for companies, which amounts to between 9,000 and 15,000 euros, the bridging aid I to III and also the concessionary loans offered by the KFW and Landesbanken. The bridging assistance is linked to fixed conditions that your company must fulfill. For the current bridging aid III, these include a drop in turnover of more than 30% between November 2020 and June 2021.

If you are careless when filling in the forms or try to "cheat" here, you may be liable to prosecution for subsidy fraud in accordance with Section 264 (1) No. 1 StGB. Incorrect or incomplete information on facts relevant to the subsidy that are advantageous to you or others can result in a criminal conviction under this criminal offense.

A conviction under Section 264 can result in a fine, but in serious cases and in the case of substantial amounts of subsidy that you have wrongfully acquired, prison sentences of up to five years are also possible.

If an investigation is initiated against you, you should contact a criminal tax lawyer immediately.

2 When could fraud be committed?

In the case of short-time working allowance, however, there is no criminal liability for subsidy fraud. Although the short-time working allowance itself is a measure supported by the government, the aid received by the state is passed on directly to the employee by the applying employer. As an employer, you are therefore merely a subsidy intermediary between the state and the employee. Therefore, in this case - unlike in the case of emergency aid, bridging aid I to III or preferential loans from banks - there can be no subsidy fraud in accordance with Section 264 (1) No. 1 StGB. However, the provision of false data or figures in the application form may result in criminal liability pursuant to Section 263 StGB Fraud.

According to Section 263 of the German Criminal Code (StGB), anyone who, with the intention of obtaining an unlawful pecuniary advantage for themselves or a third party, in this case the employee, by creating or maintaining an error through the misrepresentation of false facts or the distortion or suppression of true facts is punishable for fraud. If incorrect or deliberate misrepresentations lead to your employees receiving short-time working allowance, you will quickly be liable to prosecution for fraud under Section 263 StGB.

Like subsidy fraud, fraud is punishable by a fine or a prison sentence of up to five years. In serious cases involving considerable sums of money, i.e. financial benefits for you or your employees, a prison sentence of six months to ten years can be expected.

3. tips for avoiding penalties

Fill out the application forms conscientiously and carefully!

The basis for all possible constellations that could lead to criminal liability for subsidy fraud or fraud is the information you provide in the application forms for emergency financial aid, tax liquidity assistance, concessionary loans from KfW and Landesbanken and short-time working allowance. If you do not make any mistakes here, prosecution and, above all, a conviction are virtually impossible.

You should therefore be careful and conscientious when applying for corona aid of any kind. It is best to check your information several times for accuracy and compare it with your books. Depending on the form, important key figures to look out for include your turnover, your fixed costs and your liquid assets. Do not present your financial situation as being worse than it actually is.

Seek professional help when applying for coronavirus assistance!

If you are faced with problems when applying for Corona aid that mean that you cannot complete the necessary forms to the best of your ability and with absolute certainty, you should seek help.

Even minor errors in the form or simple discretionary decisions in your favor with regard to your turnover or costs lead to criminal liability. So if you are unsure, consult the expert advice of our tax firm. We can help you quickly and easily!

Contact the law firm Haas und Kollegen now:

06173 - 318 170

Rudolf-Diesel-Str. 5, 65760 Eschborn near Frankfurt

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