Ein Schild aus Pappe an der Bölschestraße am S-Bahnhof Friedrichshagen in Berlin-Köpenick weist auf ein Corona-Testzentrum hin. Foto: Volker Hohlfeld Kostenloser Bürgertest *** A cardboard sign on Bölschestraße at the Friedrichshagen S train station in Berlin Köpenick indicates a Corona test center Photo Volker Hohlfeld Free citizen test

The Berlin Senate confirms that fraudulent corona test centers in the capital have caused damage in the tens of millions. This emerges from a response from State Secretary for Health Thomas Götz (Greens) to a request from FDP MP Florian Kluckert, which was available to the Tagesspiegel in advance. A week ago, according to initial estimates by investigators, there was talk of damage of 30 million euros.

State Secretary Götz now writes “of a secured amount of damage” of 26 million euros – for the time being, because the State Criminal Police Office (LKA) is still investigating. The Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KV), which is responsible for paying out the fees to the operators of the test sites, “found total damage of almost 30 million euros,” it said.

The damage refers to the tax money provided by the federal government, which was apparently illegally billed by the operators of some corona centers because no or incorrect tests were carried out. According to the Senate letter, nine million euros in illegitimately received funds have been secured again.

As reported, the LKA investigates in almost 400 procedures, which in individual cases extend to several of the ad hoc centers set up at the time: In 25 percent of the almost 2,400 test centers in Berlin, billing could have been fraudulent, especially in 2021. Investigators have identified suspects from the clan milieu in the centers. The test sites in snack bars and kiosks were hardly checked.

In view of the apparently massive cases of fraud, Berlin’s public prosecutor’s office is examining whether the board of directors of the KV can also be prosecuted for breach of trust.

It is suspected that the formally responsible KV did not report obvious suspected cases to the police. The KV vehemently contradicts this, saying that suspicious cases have been reported. The public-law associations of statutory health insurance physicians are responsible for outpatient care in the respective federal state.

“The amount of millions of euros paid out to criminals for so-called citizen tests shows frighteningly how wasteful the Berlin Senate was with taxpayers’ money just because the federal government made a commitment to cover the costs of the corona tests,” said FDP health politician Kluckert. Individual MPs are considering talking about the breakdowns in the state parliament after the summer break.