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Italy: Assets worth €470 000 seized in EU agricultural funding fraud investigation

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Palermo: farmland

At the request of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Palermo (Italy), a freezing order of over €470 000, issued by the judge for preliminary investigations of the Court of Agrigento, was executed today against four farmers suspected of fraud involving EU agricultural funding, forgery of documents and money laundering. 

Money, real estate, cars and funds received from the Italian Agricultural Payments Agency (AGEA) and financed by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) were seized by the Carabinieri Agri-food Protection Department of Messina (Reparto Carabinieri per la Tutela Agroalimentare di Messina). 

According to the investigation, the suspects falsified statements and falsely declared ownership and possession of lands in the province of Agrigento, misleading the AGEA in order to obtain agricultural funds.

The investigation demonstrated that the suspects were not the actual owners of the land, part of which was already judicially confiscated in another criminal proceeding. Another part of the land they asked subsidies for was owned by the Italian Institute of Services for the Agricultural and Food Market (ISMEA), but the suspects continued to declare it as their property in the applications for the subsidies. 

Between 2015 and 2022, the suspects obtained around €450 000 in EU subsidies and over €20 000 in payment entitlements directly from AGEA.

All persons concerned are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in the competent Italian courts of law.

The EPPO is the independent public prosecution office of the European Union. It is responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment crimes against the financial interests of the EU.