top executives arrested in COVID fraud probe

By Linsey McNeill
Home » top executives arrested in COVID fraud probe

The chief executive of and three other top executives have been detained by Swiss prosecutors investigating the suspected misuse of pandemic bailout funds.

Italian national Fabio Cannavale, who is CEO of the Swiss-based online travel agent, and Chief Operating Office Andrea Bertoli, are among those who have been remanded in custody for up to seven weeks, the company has confirmed.

It said another manager who was questioned has since been released.

The group is accused of fraud in relation to CHF28.5 million (about £25m) of emergency state funds given to three subsidiaries to help pay the wages of staff on shortened working hours during the pandemic.

The subsidiaries involved are BravoNext SA, BravoMeta CH SA and LMNext CH SA.

Swiss authorities raided offices last week and have blocked CHF7m (£6m) of the group’s funds.

Following the raid, the company issued a statement saying it is ‘confident of no wrongdoing concerning the matters which are subject of investigation and will support the public prosecutor’s office in its investigation’.

Lastminute announced this morning that it had appointed Chief Customer Officer Laura Amoretti as interim CEO.

In a statement, it said: “With immediate effect Laura Amoretti assumes the duties originally assigned to directors Fabio Cannavale (CEO) and Andrea Bertoli (COO) in the company.

“The Board has resolved to suspend the powers delegated to both of them for a period of three months in connection with the ongoing investigation of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Canton of Ticino.

“She will also replace them in theirrespective positions in the subsidiaries.”

The Board said it will also seek a permanent replacement for Mr Cannavale.

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