(Luxembourg, 30 November 2023) – On Tuesday, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Cluj-Napoca (Romania) carried out searches at the offices of the Municipality of Deda and in other locations, in a probe into a suspected fraud involving programmes for the inclusion of Roma communities, co-funded by the EU.
On the radar of the EPPO is the project ‘From marginalisation to integration’, run by the Mayor’s Office of the Municipality of Deda, in Mureș County, with a financing value of over €5.5 million (RON 27 195 393). Of this, over €4.6 million (RON 22 798 887) came from EU funds – with the remainder coming as non-reimbursable funds from Romania’s national budget.
The programmes emerging from this project were intended to improve the integration of marginalised Roma communities and reduce the risk of poverty and social exclusion – namely, by implementing early childhood education for Roma communities and by reducing early school leaving, as well as promoting their access to the labour market, supporting entrepreneurship and improving housing conditions. The funds were also intended to finance anti-discrimination campaigns.
However, there are reasonable grounds to suspect that, instead of benefitting the Roma communities, the funds were in part used for other ends, by persons involved in the project or their associates, by submitting false and inaccurate documents to the managing authorities.
The searches were carried out at the offices of the Municipality of Deda, three private companies and at the suspects’ houses, and mobilised dozens of police officers from the Târgu-Mureș Organised Crime Brigade (Brigada de Combatere a Criminalității Organizate) and the Police Inspectorate of Mureș County (Inspectoratul Județean de Poliție), as well as the Cluj-Napoca and Târgu-Mureș Special Operations Brigade (Brigada de Operațiuni Speciale) and the Romanian Gendarmerie (Jandarmeria Română – Gruparea Mobilă de Jandarmi Târgu-Mureș).
The investigation is ongoing, in order to ascertain the nature and extent of the suspected criminal activities.
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.