By 2019-08-16 InPortugal

Hundreds of thousands of EU ‘subsidies’ “paid to fraudsters”

Hundreds of thousands of EU subsidies have been paid to fraudsters, a special report claims.

Broadcasting over its television channel CMTV, tabloid Correio da Manhã has detailed schemes that go back years.

They involve ‘companies’ applying for subsidies for land they don’t own.

The owners of the land might miss the fraud altogether – unless of course they themselves put in for subsidies, in which case they are informed, to their complete surprise, that they have already received money under a previous candidature.

Anabela Pacheco of Mértola is one of a number of people who woke up to the fact that land was being ‘stolen’ from under their noses in order to receive thousands in European funding.

“I have been defrauded for two or three years”, she explained. “When I put in for European funding I was told I didn’t qualify as I was already receiving money for my land”, she told reporters.

Luís Fuiza, 64, also in Mértola, added another slant to the story. He knows who has been receiving money for land that he (Fiuza) owns. The man has “never denied it”. But he assures Fiuza that “it was all a mistake” – and of course, Fiuza himself has never received a red cent of whatever has been paid over.

He told CM that the land in question is “just scrub. It could never be used (for agriculture)”. Meaning “no one came to look at it” before the money was handed over.

The Ministry of Agriculture meantime has apparently told CM that it has had 11 cases of fraud in the last two years, but that these habitually involved “disputes between owners who were claiming for the same piece of land”. Subsidies were “never attributed”, assured a spokesperson for the ministry.

CM makes it clear that the official explanation rings hollow.

A source for IFAP, the institute that apportions subsidies has described “various cases” of fraud as recounted by victims in Mértola, “and a situation that involves more than 200,000 euros”.

The source however “hasn’t wanted to be identified for fear”, presumably of reprisals.

Concludes the paper, the IFAP receives 183,000 candidatures per year – and payments made to Portugal “cost Europe somewhere in the region of 18 billion euros”.

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