Bogus research projects probed by EU

The European Union has launched an investigation into a network accused of obtaining millions of euros from the European Commission for fake research projects in seven countries including Greece, reports said on Thursday.

OLAF, the EU?s anti-fraud watchdog, is said to be working with Italian authorities to pursue a large network of scammers that has allegedly grabbed more than 50 million euros in grants.

It is accused of falsifying grant applications, inflating costs, and claiming money for projects that never materialized. Some 22 projects have been frozen as authorities continue investigations also in France, Britain, Austria, Sweden, Slovenia, and Poland, according to the Nature journal.

?The projects were apparently organized with the sole intention [of deceiving] the Commission and its control mechanisms,? David Boublil, a spokesman for the Commission, told the journal.

?We don?t have any records of [previous] fraud at such a scale,? he said. The Commission has already recovered 10 million euros awarded to bogus projects.