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€200 000 seized in EPPO case of fraud with agricultural funds in Italy

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An investigation by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) and the Carabinieri Command for Agri-Food Protection of Messina (Comando dei Carabinieri per la Tutela Agroalimentare di Messina) has led to the seizure of almost €200 000 yesterday (9 March 2022). In addition, the two suspects are not allowed to carry out their business activity, or hold any managerial role, for the period of one year.

In this case of non-procurement fraud of EU agricultural funds, the two suspects received payments from the Italian agricultural payments agency AGEA (Agenzia per le erogazioni in agricoltura) between 2015 – 2020 to cultivate their land of 180 hectares. Yet, the actual agricultural land they cultivated and owned measured less than one hectare. The two farmers claimed that they were the owners of the land, but it turned out that they falsely declared it as their land and that the actual owners were not aware of their doing.

Non-procurement fraud presents itself when false, incorrect or incomplete statements or documents are presented. It has as its effect the misappropriation or wrongful retention of funds or assets from the Union budget or budgets managed by the Union, or on its behalf.