May 7, 2010

Stealing European agricultural subsidies

From the NY Times:
In Italy in 2007, 45 people were arrested in a citrus fruit fraud that was run through a cooperative. An estimated €50 million in subsidies were sought, of which €20 million were actually paid out. The fruit was supposed to have been taken off the market, pressed into juice and sold in Spain or France. In fact the product never existed. When investigators checked the addresses to which the “ghost juice” was supposedly sent, they found apartment blocks, a museum, a parking lot and a hardware store.
In 2008, Italian and European investigators uncovered a €3 million fraud over subsidy claims for fictitious tobacco, involving at least one cooperative, putting 80 individuals under arrest and recovering the cash.
Meanwhile, on the small Atlantic island of Madeira, which is part of Portugal, two banana cooperatives benefited from almost €1 million in illegal subsidies or nonpayment of duties during a decade of scamming, according to court judgments.
Apparently, a coop in Crete applied for subsidies claiming a harvest as big as lines of olive trees planted across the Mediterranean from Crete to the island of Santorini, about 150 kilometers away. 

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