corruption

Police arrest businessman for massive training program fraud

Around 15 million euros in state and regional funds used to sponsor non-existent students

José Luis Aneri.
José Luis Aneri.

Police on Thursday arrested José Luis Aneri, a businessman suspected of massive fraud against the state and the regional government of Madrid.

Investigators found that around 15 million euros in state and regional funds were used to sponsor phony training programs for non-existent students. The systematic fraud went on for years, and was spearheaded by Aneri, who acted as the mediator between government agencies and the companies allegedly signing up their workers for the training courses.

Although so far the police have only made one arrest, sources said it is doubtful that one man alone could keep 15 million euros in public aid without any assistance from third parties.

Aneri was the contact who filed for the aid in the companies' names, and he was also in charge of implementing the training programs through a network of companies headed by Sinergia Empresarial.

He specialized in distance courses, which he allegedly provided through a digital platform. But there were no courses, and the students were not real, either. It was Sinergia workers who designed the phony coursework by copying appropriate-sounding content off the internet or from books.

As for the students and their ID numbers, Aneri got lists from a variety of sources - including an association of street vendors - and used the same names again and again in as many training programs as he could. The more students he could come up with, the more money would pour in.

Besides an alleged fraud of 4.4. million euros at the regional level, Aneri also extracted 11 million euros from the Spanish Labor Ministry in representation of other business groups requesting training programs for their employees. Both cases are being investigated separately.

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