Friday, 6 May 2011

Not a (Europe) day without new EU fraud and corruption

Happy Europe Day on May 9! Let´s celebrate with "Connie´s Glacier Special"

EU fraud and corruption cases are now so numerous that they are seldom even reported in the main media. Here are just a couple of the latest examples:

NEARLY 6,000 Andalucian firms have been accused of misusing 23 million euros of EU funding.
The companies allegedly took grants to create new jobs for the unemployed and then laid them off.
In order to qualify for the grants – between 1,500 and 3,000 euros per employee – companies were expected to offer jobseekers a permanent contract and keep them on the payroll for at least four years.
However, according to the Employment minister Manuel Recio, in at least 3,790 cases the new employees were fired as soon as the grant was paid out.
The latest findings come after an investigation into the job history of 15,063 people.
And the numbers are expected to be even higher as 44,177 people are still to be investigated.

Read the entire article here

Italian authorities investigate suspected fraud network in EU-funded research projects
05 May 2011 | 13:58 | FOCUS News Agency
Home / European Union
Brussels. Italian authorities announced today in Milan that, on the basis of information and assistance received from OLAF and the European Commission, the Italian judiciary has concluded a criminal investigation into a suspected fraud network in EU-funded research projects. The investigation in Italy concerns 22 projects with a total amount of funding paid of more than 50 million euro and is part of a broader OLAF investigation.
“Thanks to intensive cooperation over several years between OLAF, the European Commission, the Italian judiciary and Guardia di Finanza, a very sophisticated fraudulent network affecting the EU’s research budget has been eliminated. This case shows that OLAF and the European Commission by working closely together with judicial authorities in the Member States can successfully fight fraud against the EU budget,” said OLAF Director-General Giovanni Kessler, the press service of OLAF announced.
Evidence initially collected by the Commission (DG Information Society and Media) in the course of its audit work has been combined with information gathered by OLAF. Networks of inter-related companies operating in several Member States are suspected of claiming reimbursements of non-existent expenses in an organised manner using fictitious companies as partners or sub-contractors of research project consortia.
The suspected fraudulent activities were organised in a very sophisticated manner, with the intention of deceiving the Commission's control mechanisms. The organisational structures created were deliberately opaque and span several countries. Some of the methods used are similar to those used in money laundering and other organised crime schemes

A €500m EU fund to help workers who have been laid off as companies move to cheaper markets is "open to question and fraud".

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGAF) which has already been earmarked to receive €500m in the 2012 EU budget is designed to help retrain workers whose job losses are linked to changes in global trade patterns.

However, UKIP MEP and former commission chief accountant Marta Andreasen says there are examples in Ireland and Spain where she says funds have been misused to the tune of €14.8m and €23m respectively.

She was speaking after parliament's budget committee approved €9.6m on Tuesday to help 'retrain' workers from the General Motors plant in Antwerp.

Andreasen said, "There is already a big question mark as to why European taxpayers money should be used to fund redundancy training for large multi-national companies, many of whom have posted multi-million profits. Unilever and General Motors are two such companies.

"Bigger questions however exist. There are no adequate controls in place to make sure that the funds are being effectively used to train employees who have been laid off. What is the point in retraining employees for industries that have already moved elsewhere?

"With Dell in Ireland, €14.8m was given to workers who were laid off. Yet structural funds were also given to Poland to attract Dell. This is a non-sensical approach akin to robbing Peter to pay Paul within an EU framework, the burden of which fell on EU taxpayers in both cases.

Read the entire article here

Corruption is a common part of daily life, and complacency needs to be addressed before changes can be made, says Senator Jan Horník

Without the media paying the slightest attention to it, the Steering and Coordinating Committee keeping an eye on the drawing of EU subsidies met at the beginning of April in Prague. “Oh no, not yet other boring article about the European Union,” may cross your mind. But before you decide to click somewhere else, read the following: The body is the key link in the supply of money from Brussels. This money may soon dry up, especially if committee members continue to make light of the scandals connected with European subsidies.
Q: Is there a flaw in system of subsidy drawing?
A: As opposition politicians, Senator Alena Dernerová from the Most region and I are convinced that money flows to the political parties. When you look at some tenders, you can see that the winners are selected in a nonstandard way. Tenders are being prepared by friendly companies, which set up the selection procedures in advance in such a manner that they must be won by the subjects chosen by the political structures from North Bohemia. Subsequently, the selected subjects pay a percentage of the money as a kickback to the political parties

Q: Could you give a specific example?
A: Yes. For example, the tender for the reconstruction of the Becher Villa in Karlovy Vary. The tender for up to Kč 100 million was canceled. According to the information I have received, the tender’s winner was encouraged to withdraw from it. By and large, it was not the winner the Social Democrats (ČSSD) had in mind. They indicated that if he did not withdraw from the tender, not only would he never again have any chance to win a public tender, they also warned him they would also make sure that he would never be able to win any tenders in the private sphere.

Read the entire article here

The impenetrable EU bureaucratic jungle, combined with the wide distance between the Brussels top and the grass roots in the member countries, has created a system that is ideally suited for all kinds of fraud, corruption and misuse of  tax payers´ money. This is one reason why we should listen to thinkers like Czech President Václav Klaus.

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