An online tour operator raided in Ticino. This is the alleged fraud when he received 28.5 million francs in partial unemployment benefits during the pandemic.
Thousands of companies in Switzerland resorted to partial unemployment during the pandemic. State aid to companies was quick and unbureaucratic – fortunately, it avoided mass layoffs.
But the simple process can also be a gateway for impure practices. Thus, the Ticino public prosecutor’s office is conducting an investigation in a last-minute environment of an online travel provider. The company, listed on the Swiss Stock Exchange and whose operational headquarters is in Chiasso, received partial unemployment benefits totaling $28.5 million for around 500 employees of its Swiss subsidiaries. Bad?
Friday morning company announcedThat the Ticino public prosecutor’s office has requested provisional detention of up to three months for the founder and boss of the company, Fabio Cannavale, and four other current and former managers. The judge’s decision for coercion continued Friday night before: Four out of five suspects should be in custody.
The fifth suspect, who had been provisionally arrested, has since been released by the investigating judge himself. He is not informed of the people involved. During their investigation, the authorities also withheld funds from the group in various accounts for a total of 7 million francs.
The LastMinute Group is one of the world’s leading players in the online travel industry and operates a portfolio of renowned brands such as LastMinute.com, Bravofly, Rambo, Volagratis and Jetcost. The company employs around 1,500 people worldwide, including 500 in Switzerland, and achieved a turnover of around 143 million euros last year.
detained since tuesday
Ticino authorities are investigating suspected fraud, illegal use of social security or social assistance benefits and violations of Swiss unemployment insurance law, as reported on Wednesday by LastMinute and the police and the prosecutor of Ticino. The Swiss subsidiaries Bravonext SA, Bravometa CH SA and Lmaxt CH SA are concerned.
By Tuesday, raids had already been carried out at their locations near Mendrisio. Local authorities searched the premises, conducted interviews and seized equipment. Seven people were arrested. Officials said they were Italian citizens between the ages of 33 and 57. Three of them should be free again.
But not the men at the highest level of management: in addition to CEO Fabio Cannavale, number two, Chief Operating Officer (COO) Andrea Bertoli, is still being held, as the company wrote on Friday morning. The general manager Cannavale is originally from Milan and has an engineering degree. He worked as a consultant at McKinsey for several years early in his career. He has also created several online travel platforms over the past 20 years. These include eDreams Italy, Bravofly and Volagratis.com. The last two are last minute today.
Andrea Bertoli’s CV has many similarities. The software entrepreneur has been COO of LastMinute since April 2020. He also studied in Milan, was co-founder of eDreams Italy and worked as a consultant at McKinsey for many years – sometimes as Cannavale. He was also a director of various ski resort operators in the Italian Dolomites. The notion of innocence applies to both.
the stock gives way
The company, which is headquartered in the Netherlands, remained confident in its statement on Wednesday that the investigation would reveal “no wrongdoing”. Tone of Vengeance Friday – Now that only means the bureau’s continued cooperation in the investigation.
Furthermore, measures have already been taken to ensure “reasonable” continuity in the daily activity of the subsidiaries concerned. When asked on Friday, the company declined to comment further on the allegations. The responsible Attorney General’s Office does not wish to provide any further information on the ongoing proceedings.
At least business seems to be running smoothly again: the group saw record demand at the start of the year, with sales and gross margin at pre-pandemic levels. The group reaches more than 40 million users each month through its websites and mobile applications in 17 languages and 40 countries. Following the events of this week, LastMinute shares lost almost a quarter of their value in Swiss trading.
niel peterhans Since 2021, there has been an apprentice in “Teges-Anziger”. He studied political science and modern history at the University of Zurich.More information@Aniel_Pe