three men facing the judges

The charge is long, very long. Two former municipal officials from Hesperange are suspected of embezzling public funds in various ways between 2000 and 2018.

Two people who are neither seen nor known have been embezzling public funds for nearly twenty years. As a confession, they must answer for these facts before the 16se Correctional Chamber of the Luxembourg District Court on Wednesday. Real estate and funds worth 5 million euros were seized by the courts after the investigation conducted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Unit of the Judicial Police.

The work started in the summer of 2019. The money from the insurance does not appear in the accounts of the municipality. The investigation reveals the modus operandi of the alleged individuals, in particular, who used the Hesperange municipality’s tourism and tourism office to conceal the scale of the alleged embezzlement and its practices.

Three people – two former municipal officials and a local businessman who were fired after disciplinary action – are charged with embezzlement, forgery and use of public funds, forgery, misuse of public funds, theft and money laundering. They face imprisonment from 5 to 10 years.

Fake accounts, insurance fraud

The reading of the indictment by the chairman of the pretrial detention center lasted almost an hour. The magistrate then gave the floor to two investigators of the judicial police, who detailed the working routine of the former maintenance manager and the former employee of the billing service of the Hesperange municipal administration.

Fake invoices, real invoices with changed amounts, insurance scams, subsidy requests from the Ministries of Tourism and Ecology… Two fifty-year-old children, one of whom wants to stay in the detention center, are suspected of abuse. a system they know inside out to enrich themselves. And some privileges. One of them would manage the municipality’s portfolio as an insurance agent.

The embezzled money was deposited into bank accounts used by the accused in particular to acquire or renovate real estate, such as a house in Itzig, an apartment in Morocco, two apartments in Esch-sur-Alzette, an Aston Martin and a Harley Davidson, among others. The two defendants would live beyond their means, but they would have good excuses to justify this lifestyle.

Two fictitious companies

In the investigator’s report, the embezzled amounts are recorded to a comma. They range from a few hundred euros to several thousand. They would invoice the municipality for services and purchases that were fairly convincing, such as repairing boilers or buying computers or toys. In favor of two fictitious companies AEARLUX SARL (European Academy of Arts Luxembourg) and Sicoh (syndicate initiative of the municipality of Hesperange).

Two former civil servants are accused of abusing their key positions in the municipal administration and the trust placed in them by their colleagues and municipal officials. They practiced and confidently showed amounts in the municipality’s accounts that were directed to fraudulent purchases or insurance.

The new standards for municipal financial control could make their tasks more difficult, but they would always adapt their working routines to circumvent them. Until a fake invoice becomes suspicious and their explanations are no longer enough to hide their actions.

The local entrepreneur would have only a minimal role in this work. He would have made himself a partner of the other two only in one business context. He claims that he invoiced the municipality for €15,000 worth of garden furniture bought by one of the two defendants. In regret, he would pay the municipality €18,000 in early 2022 – €15,000 plus interest.

The courtroom was filled with the lawyers of the defendants, civil parties, the municipality and the state, and spectators who had come to watch the trial, as well as representatives of the municipality’s political opposition. It continues this afternoon and will continue for two more hearings next week.

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