Italian police say they have broken up a ring of businessmen accused of cheating the government out of €440 million in tax credits.
Authorities carried out 80 searches across the country on Monday, from Trentino in the north to the island of Sicily.
The tax credits in question were granted as part of government measures to help struggling businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The investigation was launched after police became aware of suspicious transaction reports from nonexistent companies or failing companies.
Subsequent investigation showed that a criminal organisation -- involving some 12 core businessmen -- “was totally dedicated to the creation and marketing of false tax credits,” the statement said.
Police said in a statement that 35 people were targeted with arrest warrants, home detention or other restrictive measures.
Italy's government passed a series of measures to try to keep Italian businesses afloat at the start of the pandemic during a nationwide lockdown.