UK company director sentenced to imprisonment for theft of EU funds

OLAF /10/08 Brussels, 14 September 2010

On 13 September at WolverhamptonCrown Court in the United Kingdom, a company director was sentenced to a term of 18 months imprisonment for the theft of 174 500 euros in the course of a research project funded by the European Union. He was also sentenced to a further two and half years imprisonment after pleading guilty to an additional eight fraud offences. The successful prosecution of the case was the result of close cooperation between the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and authorities in the United Kingdom.

“Theft of EU funds is unacceptable and will result in the prosecution of any persons involved. This case shows that close cooperation between OLAF and authorities in the Member States is crucial when fighting fraud in the European Union,” said OLAF's acting Director-General Mr. Nicholas Ilett.

The case concerned a payment to the sum of 174 513 euros made by the European Commission to a company in the United Kingdom around 7 March 2005 in the course of the EU funded project “Safeguarding EU Food Exports by the Development of Natural Gel Products with Health Enhancing properties”. The payment was intended to be paid to other companies participating in the project, but it was misappropriated and paid into the account of a second company. This company did not participate in the project, but was owned by the director.

OLAF was contacted in January 2007 by the UK Department of Business Innovation and Skills, (BIS), which was conducting a criminal investigation into the matter. OLAF provided information to the authorities in the United Kingdom concerning EU procedures and implementation of the research project, as well as assisting the authorities in the United Kingdom to identify EU officials who later provided evidence in the criminal proceedings.

Pavel BOĊ˜KOVEC
Head of Unit Spokesman, Communication, Public Relations
European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)
Rue Joseph II, 30 B-1049 Brussels (Belgium)
Phone: +32 2 296 72 00
Fax: +32 2 2998101
E-mail: olaf-press@ec.europa.eu

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