• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Five insane ways EU money was blown in Italy

Patrick Browne · 5 Jun 2015, 06:59

Published: 05 Jun 2015 06:59 GMT+02:00

According to statistics released by Olaf, the EU anti-fraud office, Italy currently has 61 open investigations into fraud involving EU funds. This means Italy has the second highest number of investigations in the EU, ranking just below Bulgaria.

This is largely down to the fact that Italy poses a unique challenge when combating fraud, thanks to its byzantine legal system and the level of mafia infiltration among public offices.

Fraud with EU money is commonplace in Italy, but is far from an Italian-only phenomenon. Here is a list of some of the most dastardly cons pulled by Italians with EU money.

1) Digitaleco`s dodgy DVDs

From 1998 to 2005 a fake company known as Digitaleco received over €3 million in EU funding to produce DVDs. However, by 2005 the company plant was still missing a roof and was not connected to a waste system. Still, it had mysteriously been certified as completed by regional officials in Calabria.

Strangely, regional authorities in Calabria made no attempts to recoup the money and subsequent raids across the country implicated a former public official in Calabria, the treasurer of the Catholic UDC party and a fundraiser for Silvio Berlusoni's Forza Italia party in the scandal...

2) A lift to nowhere

Over €2 million of EU taxpayers hard-earned cash was used to build a lift in the small Italian town of Sutera, Sicily. The lift was finished in 2012, but has never been used as the costs of running the lift were too expensive for the small town.

Now it is feared that much of the budget may have ended up lining the pockets of local mafiosi...

3) Clean electricity? Clean money!

Italy's poorer south is a prime target for EU development funds: unfortunately it is also the nerve centre of the global mafia. Between 2007 and– 2013 the EU structural fund granted €350 million to Sicily - money local mafia were looking to get a slice of.

A wind Turbine - Molgreen

Vito Nicastri used some of these funds to build up a huge empire of renewable energy on Sicily that was used as a front for the Mafia, which is suspected to have used green businesses to launder illegally earned money.

Nicastri had over €1.2 billion euros worth of assets seized by anti-mafia police in April 2014.

4) Crime Doesn't Pay

It's not always the case that EU funds disappear in Italy - at least not forever. In 2012, Italy was ordered to repay the EU a whopping €420 million after anti-fraud investigators found evidence of foul play in the way EU funds had been used to rebuild the A3 Motorway between Salerno and Reggio Calabria.

Sixty years in the making, The A3 - Salvatore Migliari

The A3 is symbolic of the challenges Italy faces in its war on corruption. The project has been dogged by repeated scandals. In May this year, Italian Premier Matteo Renzi declared that the motorway would be finished within a year. Construction began in 1966 - so watch this space!

5) Rocket Man goes to Napoli

 
But that's not the only time the EU has asked Italy for a refund. In 2009 the regional of Naples was forced to pony up the EU dough it had spent on an Elton John concert.
 
Following a Brussels led investigation, Naples was ordered to repay the 720,000 of the regional development fund it had splashed out on the gig. 
 
 
Elton John in concert - Andrew H. Walker AFP
 
EU officials stated that the money should have been used for longer term cultural projects.
 
When It comes to Italy and EU money, sorry often seems to be the hardest word.

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Patrick Browne (patrick.browne@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Live: At least 73 dead in central Italy earthquake
Residents of Amatrice survey the damage to their homes. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

A powerful earthquake that rocked central Italy on Wednesday left at least 73 people dead, the country's civil protection unit said in the first official death toll.

A long history of deadly earthquakes in Italy
Photo taken on May 17th 1976 of a nun showing a church destroyed by the Friuli-Venezia earthquake. Photo: AFP

At least 73 people were killed after a powerful earthquake struck central Italy early on Wednesday.

At least 73 dead in central Italy earthquake
Rescuers carry a man in Amatrice. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

A powerful earthquake that rocked central Italy on Wednesday left 73 people dead and the total is likely to rise, the country's civil protection unit said in the first official death toll.

Italy earthquake: What we know so far
Rescuers carry a man through the rubble of damaged homes. Photo: AFP

At least 73 are reported dead as rescuers work to save those trapped in the rubble.

'We only heard their cats': quake sorrow of Italian village
A victim of the quake in Illica desparately calls his relatives. Photo: Mario Laporta/AFP

Sitting with his brother on a bench in Illica, one of the Italian mountain villages devastated by a powerful earthquake on Wednesday, Guido Bordo clasps and unclasps his hands repeatedly.

IN PICS: Aftermath of deadly earthquake in Italy
A man from Amatrice. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

"Three quarters of the town isn't there anymore," said the mayor of Amatrice after a deadly quake hit overnight.

Migrant travels 400km clinging beneath lorry in Italy
The youngster was spotted travelling north on Italy's A1 motorway. Photo: Polizia di Stato

The refugee was exhausted from the effort of holding onto the truck by the time he was found.

Italian teenagers to get €500 'culture bonus'
The scheme will cost the govenment €290 million. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

Italians who turn 18 this year can spend the money on books, concert tickets, trips to the cinema and more.

Venice and the perennial woe of unruly tourists
Venice attracts some 22 million people a year. Photo: Moyann Brenn

"One or two fools do not represents everyone," the city's councillor for tourism told The Local.

Rome wants to send its rubbish to Austria
Rome wants to send 70,000 tonnes of household waste to Austria. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Austria has received a request from Rome authorities to help them deal with the Italian capital’s ongoing rubbish crisis by taking some of it off their hands.

Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
Why discontented Italians could derail their economy
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Keep passports safe: Typical pickpocket scams revealed
Culture
Why coffee in Italy is a culture you must taste to understand
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Society
The richest families in Florence in 1427 are still rich today
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Culture
So why do pasta-loving Italians live such long lives?
National
Italy's Renzi prepares for stormy autumn
Society
This 104-year-old just saw the sea for the first time
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
National
Should Rome give up on its 2024 Olympic dream?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
The Italian doctor giving hope to thousands of migrants
Culture
Ten 'Italian' dishes that don't actually exist in Italy
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Sport
Five Italian athletes going for gold at the Rio Olympics
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Travel
Trastevere: From a fiery past to Rome’s souvenir stand
Politics
Think Trump would be a disaster? Just ask the Italians
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
How Brexit has helped to expose Italy’s banking malaise
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Politics
After Brexit, keep a close eye on Italy's Five Star Movement
Lifestyle
12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Italy
National
Why Milan could be Europe's post-Brexit financial hub
Travel
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
National
Italian hotspots struggling with 'too many tourists'
Culture
Meet the Italian chef behind the world's best restaurant
2,515
jobs available