At the request of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Naples (Italy), the Italian Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza) of Salerno seized over €160 000 on 26 January, as part of an investigation into possible fraud involving EU agricultural funds.
At stake are benefits granted to an agricultural entrepreneur in the province of Salerno, under the Rural Development Plan for the Campania region – the so-called ‘Integrated Youth Project’.
The investigation showed anomalies in the documents submitted by the suspect in order to obtain the financial contribution. In particular, the size of the farm is actually smaller than what was declared by the suspect, to match the minimum requirements set for the funds.
The investigators also found discrepancies between the actual crops cultivated in some land parcels, and those that were indicated in the application for the funds. In addition, a building under construction on the premises, ostensibly a warehouse, seems to have been intended instead as a villa to house two families.
Since an advance payment of €163 031 had already been made to the suspect, the EPPO requested the preventive seizure order of an equivalent amount from the competent Judge for Preliminary Investigations (€60 000 on a bank account and the remaining €100 000 by seizure of a property), in order to recover the damages to the EU budget.
The precautionary measure was issued based on the evidence collected during the preliminary investigation. All persons concerned are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in the competent Italian courts of law.