Fraud Investigation Leaves 10 Companies without EU Money

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Another 11 companies remain under monitoring.

The Paying Agency for Agriculture has published a new list of farmers and food companies that will receive EU subsidies for rural development. The list does not include ten companies which will not receive the funds from the competition held during the term of Agriculture Minister Tihomir Jakovina because of fraudulent activities, reports Novi List on August 11, 2016.

These are the four companies owned by Žito Osijek (Argumentum Vitae, Floccus, Salami Aurea and Copadio);  two companies owned by Zvonimir Širjan which are the second largest producers of beef cattle in Croatia, Agropromet and Širjan; two companies owned by Mirko Ervačić, Osatina Group and Nova Natura; Moslavina Products from Čazma; and Luneta from Ludbreg. In addition to these, another 11 companies were under investigation, but they did appear on the new list.

The competition for rural incentives was conducted between February and April last year. The first list of “winners” was published in November, and the Paying Agency for Agriculture has concluded that everything was in order even after it analyzed the documents. However, the European Commission, which should provide 85 percent of incentives, revealed that there were attempts to avoid EU regulations which say that connected companies are to be treated as a single user. Nevertheless, the competition rules have been written in a way that same owners could apply with more than one company.

Some companies have been established only three months before the announcement of the competition. The European Commission has focused on 21 companies, and the new Agriculture Minister Davor Romić has been told to launch an investigation and exclude from incentives those companies for which special conditions have been created.

Was the competition at the Agriculture Ministry designed specifically for particular companies or was anyone who wanted to apply able to do so for more than one company? This is to be determined. Meanwhile, the ten companies have been excluded from the list, while another 11 will receive the funds but will be monitored for another five years.

Another 940 registered companies and family farms had enough points to obtain the incentives, but there will not be enough money for all. Many farmers who were put on the list in November have subsequently taken commercial loans for their investments and now they can only keep guessing whether they will get the incentives or not.


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