The environment, a new vein for fraudsters of all kinds

BRUSSELS LETTER

The then CEOs of Volkswagen and Audi in 2014, before their companies were accused of fraud in the

You have to prepare for it. The European “green pact” – which should bring the Old Continent to carbon neutrality in 2050 – could be a boon for fraudsters of all kinds. At least for those who have made a specialty of finding loopholes in Community legislation to enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers.

In order for the European Union (EU) to respect the Paris Agreement, the Commission in fact provides that 30% of Community spending – we are talking here of more than € 1,800 billion over the period 2021-2027 – will have to be allocated. , one way or another, to the fight against global warming. It is also working on a carbon adjustment mechanism at the EU’s external borders, which would make it possible to tax imports from third countries of products whose manufacture has not been respectful of the environment.

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“Criteria, standards, quotas, subsidies Europe competes in ingenuity to advance its causes, but in general cares little about their implementation. œwork “, regrets a senior official. Just as the criminal networks have been able to adapt each time that Brussels invests in new fields – the quality of food, the decrease in the use of pesticides, the modernization of industry… – there is no doubt for them. specialists that they will know, there again, to find their account there. At the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), in any case, we are preparing for this new type of crime.

“Increase in fraud”

While Europe has been trying to “green” its spending and toughen its demands for the fight against global warming for a few years now, “We have seen an increase in fraud” related to these subjects, explained Ville Itälä, Director General of OLAF, on the occasion of the publication, a few days ago, of the latest annual report of the body responsible for protecting the EU’s financial interests.

The most emblematic example to date remains the “dieselgate”, which in 2015 saw Volkswagen use subsidized loans from the European Investment Bank to the tune of 400 million euros to install fraudulent software on its engines. which allowed him to cheat during CO emission tests2 when this money was supposed to help him do research to produce cleaner cars …

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But reading the OLAF report for the year 2019 gives other examples which bear witness to the creativity that can be shown, in the four corners of Europe, by crooks, more or less organized, but always on the job. lookout for an idea. From trade in protected species, such as glass eels, or exotic woods, which in addition to being illegal deprives the EU of VAT and customs duties, to bogus aquaculture projects (on land without water ) financed by Brussels, through the sale of biodiesel (in this respect subsidized) which was not, the catalog is edifying.

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