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Over €2 million seized in fraud case regarding EU agricultural funds in Italy

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On 8 July, €2 million were seized in a European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) investigation into fraud concerning EU agricultural funds in Sardinia (Italy). The Nuoro Group of the Guardia di Finanza (Gruppo Nuoro della Guardia di Finanza) carried out the preventive seizure order in Nuoro (Sardinia) and in some neighbouring villages.

Between 2018 and 2021, 15 Sardinian agricultural companies applied for, and obtained, contributions from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). Funding was provided to support the installation of dry-stone in wire mesh closures.

It is alleged, however, that the companies involved did not actually carry out the works by using companies specialised in the sector, but instead assigned the contracts to each other. Hence, the different companies became both clients and suppliers of the works and issued invoices and payments of invoices for works that were never carried out. With this scheme, it is believed that the suspects fraudulently obtained contributions of over € 2 million.

The investigation revealed that almost all of the projects for which funding was granted were carried out by the same engineer designer and director of works, who are thought to have created the repeated modus operandi for each individual grant.