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Italy: EPPO seizes assets in investigation into agricultural funding fraud

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(Luxembourg, 30 June 2023) – At the request of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Palermo (Italy), the Italian Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza) have executed a seizure order against a farm suspected of agricultural funding fraud, with estimated damages of €530 000.

The suspect under investigation is an agricultural company located in the municipality of Caronia (province of Messina). According to the evidence, the suspect declared to be in possession of numerous agricultural land parcels, located mostly in the Nebrodi national park, allegedly resorting to false lease contracts, bearing the signatures of unsuspecting owners, who were unaware of the fraudulent scheme.

In this manner, the suspect is believed to have unduly obtained €530 000 in EU funds from the Italian agricultural payments agency AGEA (Agenzia per le erogazioni in agricoltura).

At the request of the EPPO, the judge for preliminary investigations in Patti, Sicily, ordered the preventive seizure of assets for the sums unduly received, a precautionary measure that was executed by the Guardia di Finanza of Sant'Agata di Militello. Several properties and payment entitlements from AGEA were seized, worth around €260 000.

The precautionary measure was issued based on the evidence collected during the preliminary investigation. All persons concerned are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in the competent Italian courts of law.

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) is the independent public prosecution office of the European Union. Itis responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment crimes against the financial interests of the EU.