Italian hospital employee accused of skipping work for 15 years

A hospital worker described as the “king of absentees” by Italian media is being investigated after allegedly skipping work for 15 years - but receiving his full salary.

Italian hospital employee accused of skipping work for 15 years
Italian police said the man was caught out by an investigation codenamed 'Operation Part Time'. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The man, employed at the Ciaccio hospital in the southern city of Catanzaro, Calabria, is accused of not turning up for work since 2005.

Now aged 67, he is being investigated for fraud, extortion and abuse of office, Italian news agency Ansa reported.

He was reportedly paid €538,000 (£464,000) in total over the years he is thought not to have been working.

READ ALSO: Italian grandma tips off police to bring down mafia clan

Six managers at the hospital are also being investigated in connection with the alleged absenteeism.

The man was caught out by a police investigation, codenamed ‘Operation Part Time’, into absenteeism and suspected fraud in the Italian public sector 

He was reportedly assigned to the job in 2005, at which point he is alleged to have stopped going in.

He is also accused of threatening the hospital director to stop her from reporting his absenteeism.

After that manager retired, neither her successor nor human resources ever noticed his absence, police said.

In 2016 the Italian government tightened a law aimed at stopping absenteeism, after police uncovered a string of cases of public sector workers pocketing pay without turning up for work.

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Italy has most recovery fund fraud cases in EU, report finds

Italy is conducting more investigations into alleged fraud of funds from the EU post-Covid fund and has higher estimated losses than any other country, the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) said.

Italy has most recovery fund fraud cases in EU, report finds

The EPPO reportedly placed Italy under special surveillance measures following findings that 179 out of a total of 206 investigations into alleged fraud of funds through the NextGenerationEU programme were in Italy, news agency Ansa reported.

Overall, Italy also had the highest amount of estimated damage to the EU budget related to active investigations into alleged fraud and financial wrongdoing of all types, the EPPO said in its annual report published on Friday.

The findings were published after a major international police investigation into fraud of EU recovery funds on Thursday, in which police seized 600 million euros’ worth of assets, including luxury villas and supercars, in northern Italy.

The European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility, established to help countries bounce back from the economic blow dealt by the Covid pandemic, is worth more than 800 billion euros, financed in large part through common EU borrowing.

READ ALSO: ‘It would be a disaster’: Is Italy at risk of losing EU recovery funds?

Italy has been the largest beneficiary, awarded 194.4 billion euros through a combination of grants and loans – but there have long been warnings from law enforcement that Covid recovery funding would be targeted by organised crime groups.

2023 was reportedly the first year in which EU financial bodies had conducted audits into the use of funds under the NextGenerationEU program, of which the Recovery Fund is part.

The EPPO said that there were a total of 618 active investigations into alleged fraud cases in Italy at the end of 2023, worth 7.38 billion euros, including 5.22 billion euros from VAT fraud alone.

At the end of 2023, the EPPO had a total of 1,927 investigations open, with an overall estimated damage to the EU budget of 19.2 billion euros.