29 July 1998
EU fraud squad fails to crack
farming swindles

THE fraud squad set up to tackle the annual £1 billion embezzlement of European Union funds is “highly inefficient and unprofessional”, claims the European Court of Auditors.

It says the squad, known as Uclaf, has failed to make proper use of computer databases. It has also stopped cases “without reason” and dithered for years over cases.

The court also raises concerns over the units inability to resolve allegations of corruption within the commission itself.

Some of the worst cases of fraud involved subsidies through the Common Agricultural Policy. The court found in 1996 that millions of pounds had been claimed by farmers for setting aside land that did not exist, or claiming grants twice for the same land.

There have been numerous cases of grants being claimed for non-existent olive oil and tobacco crops. The waiving of customs duties “in error” is another costly fraud.

  • The Daily Telegraph 29/07/98 page 16