Romania ranks first on proved EU money frauds, according to the OLAF 2017 report released on Wednesday.
So, OLAF informs that Romania has concluded 11 investigations into the use of EU funds managed or spent in whole or in part at national or regional level in 2017, among which eight had been closed with recommendations. So, our country tops the ranking on the concluded investigations but on the recommendations as well. Hungary ranks second and Poland comes third.
Moreover, OLAF set TelDrum case as an example for an EU fund embezzlement case.
„Two investigations OLAF conducted into projects financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for road constructions in Romania illustrate this trend. OLAF’s investigations uncovered that the representatives of a county municipality, the beneficiary, had colluded with representatives of the company who designed the technical specifications for the road, in order to establish restrictive criteria in the tender documentation that would benefit one particular economic operator. This company won the contract, while the rest of the tenderers were disqualified during the initial evaluation phase. The two colluding organisations falsified a large number of documents, including the technical project and memorandum for the road construction, as well as the structure checks. These falsified documents were not only used by the municipality in the tender procedure related to the works, but were also later submitted to support a claim for reimbursement from the Managing Authority, resulting in the undue allocation of EU funds,” the report reads.
OLAF calculated that the financial damage to the European Union budget stemming from these cases is approximately EUR 21 million, representing the total value of EU funding paid by the Managing Authority.
„As a result, OLAF recommended that the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission recovers the full amount, and issued judicial recommendations to the Romanian National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) to initiate judicial actions. The DNA responded to OLAF’s recommendations by opening a criminal investigation. In November 2017, the DNA brought charges against high-level officials in Romania for fraud with EU funds, for creating an organised criminal group and misusing an official position for personal gain. In order to secure the recovery of funds to the EU budget, the DNA prosecutors seized assets and froze the bank accounts of the persons concerned. The European Commission asked Romania to carry out the necessary corrections so that the EU budget would not be affected. Romania agreed to the Commission’s request to apply these corrections,” says the report.