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Italian authorities have issued a freezing order against a group of farmers who are accused of claiming EU farming subsidies for gardeners. Three individuals linked to Italian businesses allegedly made fraudulent claims totaling over €375,000 in EU agricultural funds between 2020 and 2023, with €65,000 already withdrawn from Italy’s payment agency. The suspects claimed to own 368 hectares of farmland in order to receive subsidies, but authorities discovered that the land actually belonged to the naval air station of Sigonella, where the suspects were only allowed to provide grass mowing services. The suspects include two brothers, one of whom owns an agriculture business, and another partner who joined the scam later on. This case is the third large investigation involving freezing orders requested by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Italy this year, resulting in over €3.7 million in assets being frozen in the past three months.

In 2023, a significant portion of open investigations related to fraud in the EU farming budget in Italy, according to EPPO data. European prosecutor for Italy, Andrea Venegoni, cited several reasons for the high number of agricultural fraud cases in the country. He mentioned that Italy has numerous rural areas where EU funds are distributed for agricultural and rural development, attracting criminal organizations looking to exploit these programs for financial gain. Venegoni praised the investigative abilities of Italian financial and judicial police in detecting fraud and cooperating effectively with European delegated prosecutors. While the European Commission does not have the authority to prosecute fraud cases, it works with the EU anti-fraud office (OLAF) and EPPO to address and prosecute instances of fraud in the EU budget.

Commission spokesperson Olof Gill emphasized the Commission’s zero tolerance for fraud and its trust in EPPO and OLAF to investigate, prosecute, and follow up on fraud cases to protect the EU’s financial interests. With the alleged perpetrators’ assets frozen by a judicial order, the EU’s financial interest is safeguarded. The Commission is closely monitoring the case to identify any weaknesses in administrative control systems that may have contributed to the alleged crimes. The freezing order issued by Italian authorities against the group of farmers accused of fraudulently claiming EU farming subsidies underscores the ongoing efforts to combat fraud in EU-funded programs and the cooperation between national and European authorities in investigating and prosecuting such cases.

Italian authorities have issued a freezing order against a group of farmers who are accused of claiming EU farming subsidies for gardeners. Three individuals linked to Italian businesses allegedly made fraudulent claims totaling over €375,000 in EU agricultural funds between 2020 and 2023, with €65,000 already withdrawn from Italy’s payment agency. The suspects claimed to own 368 hectares of farmland in order to receive subsidies, but authorities discovered that the land actually belonged to the naval air station of Sigonella, where the suspects were only allowed to provide grass mowing services. The suspects include two brothers, one of whom owns an agriculture business, and another partner who joined the scam later on. This case is the third large investigation involving freezing orders requested by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Italy this year, resulting in over €3.7 million in assets being frozen in the past three months.

In 2023, a significant portion of open investigations related to fraud in the EU farming budget in Italy, according to EPPO data. European prosecutor for Italy, Andrea Venegoni, cited several reasons for the high number of agricultural fraud cases in the country. He mentioned that Italy has numerous rural areas where EU funds are distributed for agricultural and rural development, attracting criminal organizations looking to exploit these programs for financial gain. Venegoni praised the investigative abilities of Italian financial and judicial police in detecting fraud and cooperating effectively with European delegated prosecutors. While the European Commission does not have the authority to prosecute fraud cases, it works with the EU anti-fraud office (OLAF) and EPPO to address and prosecute instances of fraud in the EU budget.

Commission spokesperson Olof Gill emphasized the Commission’s zero tolerance for fraud and its trust in EPPO and OLAF to investigate, prosecute, and follow up on fraud cases to protect the EU’s financial interests. With the alleged perpetrators’ assets frozen by a judicial order, the EU’s financial interest is safeguarded. The Commission is closely monitoring the case to identify any weaknesses in administrative control systems that may have contributed to the alleged crimes. The freezing order issued by Italian authorities against the group of farmers accused of fraudulently claiming EU farming subsidies underscores the ongoing efforts to combat fraud in EU-funded programs and the cooperation between national and European authorities in investigating and prosecuting such cases.

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