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CAP fraud: the EU Court of Auditors sounds the alarm

2022-07-04T15:34:34.147Z

The first item in the European budget is “the privileged prey of fraudsters”, warns the Court, which calls for more control by States.



The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the first item in the European budget, is "

the privileged prey of fraudsters

" who exploit "

the loopholes

" of national controls, warned the Court of Auditors of the European Union on Monday, recommending to "

act more

” to track down offenders.

The amounts reported as “

fraudulent

” by the Member States represented for 2016-2020 only 0.09% of CAP aid, but “

these figures do not give the complete picture

”, estimates the Luxembourg-based institution.

Read alsoThe Common Agricultural Policy, a tangle of aid that has become increasingly complex over time

Thus, out of a sample of 698 CAP payments during the period 2018-2020, the Court identified "

errors

" in 101 cases and for 17 of them, considers that the suspicion of fraud exists.

The files were sent to Olaf (European Anti-Fraud Office) or to the European Public Prosecutor's Office, competent to investigate.

The more complex the criteria, the greater the risk, particularly in rural development aid: some applicants omit key information or artificially create the conditions to be eligible

,” underline the Court's experts in their report.

Read alsoPAC: “a majority” of the 27 want to postpone crop rotation because of the war

To receive aid for agricultural SMEs, some farms do not declare their links with other groups: for example, a Lithuanian cooperative received 200,000 euros, although it was a subsidiary of a large multinational and could not claim to this grant.

In another case, in Poland, members of the same family each made separate applications for aid for the construction of a pigsty, requesting the maximum amount, claiming to have independent activities to circumvent the eligibility limits (size and results).

For aid to “

young farmers

”, you have to be under 40 and settling for the first time: however, some actually derive most of their income from non-agricultural activities.

Court calls on EU to better assess anti-fraud measures

The Court also denounces “

land grabbing

”, fraud permitted by falsified documents, “

the use of political influence, manipulation of procedures, bribes

”.

"

The fraudsters acquire land for the sole purpose of receiving aid, without carrying out any agricultural activity

", with a high risk in mountain areas, "

where it is difficult to verify the activity, such as grazing

“says the report.

Another example cited: a Polish dairy farmer had received help to buy heifers, but he simply acquired them from his father, with whom he shared the same barn.

A few days later, he sold these same animals (which never moved) to his father, who, in turn, received aid from the CAP supposed to help him finance this purchase.

Read alsoThe European Commission is pushing France to review its copy of the CAP

The Court calls on the European Commission to better assess States' anti-fraud measures and recommends greater use of new technologies (data mining, satellite imagery, photo-interpretation, etc.).

Source: lefigaro

All business articles on 2022-07-04

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