In view of the massive cases of fraud in corona test centers, Berlin’s public prosecutor’s office is examining whether the board of directors of the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KV) can also be prosecuted for breach of trust.
In Berlin alone, damage of 30 million euros is said to have occurred in the pandemic year 2021 alone. This means tax money that was billed by the operators of some corona centers, but for which no or incorrect tests were carried out. “Spiegel TV” had first reported extensively about it.
The State Criminal Police Office (LKA) investigates in around 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 may have been incorrect.
If you extrapolate the expected damage to the whole of Germany, a tenth of the 10.5 billion euros provided by the federal government for the rapid tests would have gone to criminals through fraud.
The investigators’ accusation: the formally responsible KV did not report obvious suspected cases to the police. The KV disagrees. She said that suspicious cases had been reported and that the accusation of infidelity was strongly rejected.
The former Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU), who has been under increasing pressure since the second corona wave from autumn 2020, supported the test stations, which are also operated by laypeople, with a lot of money. This was used by figures from the clan milieu and men suspected of gang crime at home and abroad.
Until July 2021 there were twelve euros per test, after that 8.50 euros. The KV also receives a “reimbursement of administrative costs” of 3.5 percent, which was later reduced to 2.5 percent. But: The more money the test site operators billed to the KV, the more money got stuck with the organization itself.
In order to set up a corona test center, neither real ID cards nor certificates of good conduct had to be deposited. Medical personnel were also not required for a quick test in such an ad hoc center. In addition to a few doctors, operators of late night snack bars, snack bars, slot machine casinos and shisha bars also applied.
A test center provider had more than 160 entries in its police file, confirmed Jörg Engelhard, the chief investigator specializing in billing fraud, to the Tagesspiegel. The operators of the centers had to register online with the Senate Health Administration. But even if one of them registered several stations, it was difficult to determine where he had which corona tests carried out.
Those who were registered in the administration could bill the KV for their work. Theoretically, each test center could invent numerous cases. According to information, only very few places were checked by the police and regulatory or health authorities.
The KV is a corporation under public law, all 9,000 Berlin doctors who care for people with statutory health insurance must belong to it. The KV manages the fees of the health insurance companies and regulates outpatient care. Minister Spahn therefore also commissioned the panel doctors to settle the work of the center operators and to pay for them with state funds.
The KV has so far paid out around 590 million euros in tax money for the ad hoc centers. Numerous test sites are still running throughout Berlin.
In June 2021, the CDU had already asked in Berlin’s House of Representatives why the then Health Senator Dilek Kalayci (SPD) had hardly reacted to the numerous indications of fraud. As reported, Kalayci reacted briefly at the time: the KV was responsible for billing, and the police for investigating crimes.
The office of today’s health senator, Ulrike Gote (Greens), said: The test centers were checked by the district regulatory offices, the health authorities and the LKA – the latter also reported incoming complaints about test sites.