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Romania: Three indicted for fraud involving an agro-tourism guesthouse

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On 19 May 2023, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) referred a criminal case to the Bucharest Tribunal Court, in Romania, where two individuals and one company were indicted for fraud involving the construction of an agro-tourism guesthouse.

The charges against the defendants concern the construction of agro-tourism accommodation in the Colibița commune, Bistrița county, in Romania, which benefitted from non-reimbursable EU funds, granted by Romania’s Agency for Financing Rural Investments (AFIR).

According to the investigation, in August 2018, the representative of the agro-tourism company submitted a funding application to the AFIR, containing false declarations. These statements certified that the representative of the company benefitting from the funds, who also acted as the chairman of the tender evaluation commission, respected the rules regarding the avoidance of conflicts of interest and the procurement procedure.

In reality, according to the charges, the procurement procedure for the construction of the guesthouse was rigged, so that the contract would be awarded to the building company which had been previously selected. This was done in agreement with the ‘de facto administrator’ of the company that was awarded the contract to build the guesthouse, who is charged as an accomplice.

The evidence showed that the tender was set up by the beneficiary of the funding in the name of an intermediary, in order to disguise the existence of a conflict of interest, and to give the appearance that the correct procedure had been followed.

The defendants are accused of wrongfully obtaining RON 829 387.22 (around 182 000) in non-refundable EU funds between October 2018 and August 2022.

For the recovery of the damages to the EU budget, the EPPO seized real estate belonging to the defendants. The AFIR joined the lawsuit as a civil party, in order to be reimbursed for the total amount paid.