EU green schemes a growing target for fraud

15 Sep 20

Fraudsters are increasingly targeting EU climate funds, the European Union’s anti-fraud office has warned.

 

With the union preparing to spend more on environmental schemes in its 2021-27 spending period than ever before, this trend is likely to continue, the European Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf) said in a report looking at its work in 2019.

“We keep abreast of fraud trends and we adapt to the ever-changing fraud patterns that seek to take advantage of the money that Europe makes available to achieve its priorities,” said Olaf director-general Ville Itälä.

“We have already observed a growing trend building up over the last few years in fraud involving EU funds for environmental and sustainable projects.”

The report gave the example of ‘Dieselgate’, when a €400m European Investment Bank loan meant to finance research into reducing vehicle emissions was instead partially used to develop an engine on which Volkswagen AG used a ‘defeat device’ to misrepresent emissions data.

In 2019, Olaf carried out investigations relating to issues such as illegal logging, trade in endangered species, the import of timber from protected forests, illicit biodiesel trade schemes, fraud against forest fire detection funds and several cases involving water and waste management.

One case concluded last year involved faking green credentials in order to obtain EU funding.

The EU hopes to mobilise €1trn of public and private investment in the coming decade to help Europe reach its goal of emissions-neutrality by 2050.

Its so-called ‘green deal’ is aimed at all sectors of the economy, notably transport, energy, agriculture and emissions-heavy industries such as textiles and chemicals.

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