Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn + Inadequate EU and Italian legislation allowed public spending frauds and misuse in Italy, as the Italian State Audit Court announced the arrest of fraudsters who misused EU money. The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) triggered the Italian fraud investigation, called Operation Cocoon and welcomed the Courtâs decision. The Italian Audit Court also announced on Feb. 18 that the complexity of the Italian legislation favored illegality in public spending. EU Legislation â” Operation Cocoon OLAF announced today that eight individuals have been found guilty of defrauding the European Union (EU) budget in a transnational case. The case code-named Operation Cocoon, involved the investigation of 22 Research and Innovation projects conducted over 10 years in different European Union countries and amounting to more than 53 million euro. A network of fraudsters coordinated almost identical bids in several EU Member States, while also introducing in the consortia fake companies as partners or sub-contractors. After receiving the projects in question, the individuals also claimed non-existent expenses in an organized manner, OLAF reported. According to the EU body, the value of the damages the European Union budget suffered, as recognized by the Italian Court of Auditors, so far exceeds 1.8 million euro. According to an OLAF press release, the Operation Cocoon is particularly meaningful, as two of the accused contested the jurisdiction of the national court because the projects were funded by European Institutions themselves. However, the Italian Supreme Court settled the dispute, attesting to the ability of the national Court of Auditors in defending the EU budget to the same extent as it would defend the national one. OLAF stressed that these case should give a wake-up call to the EU organizations responsible for the EU projects to better regulate the checks and balances process. âFraudsters exploited weaknesses in EU project management and evaluation, attempting to steal large amounts of money,âÂ said OLAF Director-General Giovanni Kessler and added.Â âLuckily, our fruitful cooperation with Italian authorities, as well as with other Commission DGs, means the criminals have been caught and sentenced and the shortcomings which have made such irregularities possible have now been fixed,âÂ he added. Italian legislation Yesterday, Italian news agency, ANSA, also reported that the Italian State Audit Court decided that the review of public spending has been a âpartial failure.â State Audit Court President Raffaele Squitieri said that the spending review didnât adequately addressed the interrelationship between public spending and the quality improvement of the public services. Squitieri said that some governmental actions geared at improving efficiency and rationalizing resources, but also led to âless targeted operations to reduce, if not suppress, services to the collectivity.â The Italian judge underlined that the complicated laws in Italy favors illegality: âThe complexity and multiplication of laws give illegality more fertile ground for taking hold, rather than defenses against or obstacles to its spread.â Squitieri also stressed that public investment is essential for growth. âRecovering adequate levels of public intervention in major works is not only a key condition for meeting the European clause on investments required of the government, but also, and especially, for achieving adequate levels of growth, reabsorbing a delay in infrastructure provision that risks impacting on the countryâs competitive potential,â he said. Civil society welcomes Courtâs decision According to ANSA, the Italian labor unions, the consumers groups and other associations welcomed the courtâs decision stressing that public spending in Italy didnât improve essential services. Nine million Italians no longer use the national health service, Susanna Camusso, leader of Italyâs biggest trades union confederation CGIL, said. âThey canât reach it anymore because of budget cuts and reduced services,â she said. âThe failure of the spending review has produced a double loss for Italians,â consumer association Codacons President Carlo Rienzi told to ANSA and added. âOn the one hand, it has not eliminated the waste and improper use of public resources that weights on the pockets of the collectivity; on the other, it has led to an increase in fiscal pressure, particularly with regards to local taxes.â Rienzi concluded by saying that the residents are paying âmore to receive ever fewer services.â The post appeared first on New Europe .
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