Development aid fraudsters arrested after OLAF-Italian probe

OLAF /11/09 Brussels, 18 May 2011

Fraudulent use of 3 million euro destined to help development in poorer countries has been foiled following an OLAF investigation. After close co-operation between OLAF and Italian judicial authorities two people connected to an Italian company in receipt of money from both the EU and the European Development Fund (EDF) were arrested by the Carabinieri Antifraud-Unit (NAC) in Rome. The company had received at least 10 million euro from the EU and the EDF for the delivery and supply of goods to several developing countries.

“Fraud against European development funds hurts the poorest and most unfortunate. These appalling acts must be stopped. This case shows how effectively OLAF, European Commission and Member State investigative services can work together to discover and prosecute suspected criminals. I am also confident that this will have a deterrent effect,” said OLAF Director-General Giovanni Kessler.

The NAC criminal investigation followed up on information received from OLAF gathered during a complex administrative investigation into an Italian company receiving EU and EDF funds.

During the administrative investigation, OLAF inspected goods and participated in dawn raids at the premises of the direct and indirect suppliers involved. The OLAF investigation proved that the company repeatedly acted in breach of the contracts related to EU and EDF funds.  The delivery and supply of goods did not correspond to those indicated in the offers and in the contracts, and trademarks attached to items supplied did not correspond to the real manufacturers.

OLAF passed on the evidence to the Carabinieri Antifraud-Unit in Rome which then prepared a crime report for the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Rome Court and criminal proceedings were opened. As a result of the criminal investigation, two people were placed under house arrest by the Italian Carabinieri.

For more information please see press release from Carabinieri:

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

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