Author: Daniele Alessandro Luison
Subcommittee: Banking insurance and financial authorities
In a recent development underscoring the indispensable role played by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), a significant inquiry was executed in collaboration with the Italian Financial Police, the “Guardia di Finanza”.
On the 22nd of August, 2023, at the request of the EPPO in Rome, the Guardia di Finanza carried out a seizure of €1 million as part of an investigation involving a non-governmental organization (NGO) suspected of misappropriating EU tourism funding. The involved NGO, which specializes in market research and opinion surveys, had secured €1 million in EU funding between September 2017 and November 2018 through the Autonomous Region of Sardinia. This financial allocation was designated for the purpose of sustaining training and informational endeavors aimed at promoting environmentally sustainable tourism in the Mediterranean region.
Allegations emerged that the leadership of the NGO redirected portions of the received funding into a personal bank account and allocated other funds for objectives that were entirely unrelated to the intended mission. This investigation, predominantly spearheaded by the Public Expenditure Protection Group within the Guardia di Finanza (Gruppo Tutela Spesa Pubblica, Nucleo di Polizia Economico-Finanziaria di Roma), underscores the EPPO’s pivotal role in scrutinizing and adjudicating crimes that impact the fiscal interests of the European Union. Furthermore, this case accentuates the critical significance of the banking sector and its experts in the identification and confiscation of ill-gotten funds.
In fact, following the EPPO’s requisition, the Italian Financial Police exhibited prompt and effective intervention to secure the misappropriated funds, thus showcasing the necessity of collaborative endeavors in the endeavor to counter financial irregularities within the European Union.
In conclusion, the EPPO’s proactive engagement in the investigation and resolution of the misallocation of EU funding by an NGO underscores its central role in preserving the fiscal interests of the European Union, while the cooperation with law enforcement agencies such as the Guardia di Finanza and the expertise of the banking sector are foundational in guaranteeing the integrity of EU funds.