On 31 October 2023, the Court of First Instance of Athens (Greece) delivered its verdict in a subsidy fraud case involving livestock, investigated and prosecuted by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO).
Nine defendants, all farmers in the Trikala region, had been accused of either declaring more cattle than they owned, or of declaring ownership of cattle when they did not own any at all, in order to obtain funds from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the EU’s European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The overall estimated damage amounts to €270 000.
The evidence obtained during the investigation, led by the EPPO, resulted from on-site inspections undertaken by OPEKEPE (Ο.Π.Ε.Κ.Ε.Π.Ε.) – the Greek Payment and Control Agency for Guidance and Guarantee Community Aid.
The court convicted one of the defendants to eight months’ imprisonment, suspended for three years.
Seven of the defendants were acquitted, after they paid back the funds unlawfully received. The court declared that, while these defendants had committed the offence of which they were accused, it would refrain from imposing a sentence, given that OPEKEPE was fully satisfied with the complete recovery of the unduly distributed amounts, in accordance with Article 405, Paragraph 3 of the Greek Criminal Code.
The court found another defendant not guilty.
The EPPO is the independent public prosecution office of the European Union. It is responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment crimes against the financial interests of the EU.