NEARLY 6,000 Andalucian firms have been accused of misusing 23 million euros of EU funding.
The companies allegedly took grants to create new jobs for the unemployed and then laid them off.
In order to qualify for the grants – between 1,500 and 3,000 euros per employee – companies were expected to offer jobseekers a permanent contract and keep them on the payroll for at least four years.
However, according to the Employment minister Manuel Recio, in at least 3,790 cases the new employees were fired as soon as the grant was paid out.
The latest findings come after an investigation into the job history of 15,063 people.
And the numbers are expected to be even higher as 44,177 people are still to be investigated.
Despite this, Recio denied that it was the result of widespread fraud. “I do not think most small businesses intended to defraud, but they failed to meet the requirements of the grant in the economic crisis,” he said.
Between 2003 and 2010 more than 136 million euros was awarded by the EU to help with job creation and to encourage businesses to offer staff permanent contracts.