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September 20, 2020

Agriculture minister accused of covering up companies found guilty by OLAF

The minister of Agriculture covers up the meat processing companies that OLAF found guilty of embezzling SAPARD funds, an NGO said in a press release. The Group of Political Investigations (GIP), led by Mugur Ciuvica, made public an in-house document of the Agriculture Ministry, drafted following a request addressed to Romanian authorities by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) to integrally recover the SAPARD non-reimbursable funds embezzled by companies operating in the Romanian meat industry. On July 20 this year, Traian Basescu announced that 62 out of the 211 SAPARD projects for the meat industry are suspected of embezzlement. In 17 of these cases, OLAF already asked for the money to be returned. What President Basescu omitted to tell is that Romanian authorities are trying to hush up the frauds made by beneficiaries of SAPARD funds in the meat industry, as Agriculture Minister Mihail Dumitru considers that “the OLAF demand is disproportionate or insufficiently founded,” the group said in the release. In support of the accusation, GIP made public a memo sent to Minister Dumitru by the general director of the Agency of Payments for Rural Development and Fishing (APDRP), Mihai Vadan. According to the document, the investigation about SAPARD funds embezzled in Bulgaria (which resulted in the country losing access to European funds for 2008) led OLAF to the conclusion that some Bulgarian companies involved in embezzling EU money had the same kind of connections with SAPARD beneficiaries in Romania.

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