Report says farm co-ops squandered state money

A report probing the country’s three main agricultural cooperatives points toward the mismanagement of millions of euros of state money with large amounts being spent on trips and rent for senior members of the unions, Kathimerini understands.

The report, which was commissioned by the Agricultural Development Ministry, investigated the fate of 14 million euros given to the three unions, known by their acronyms PASEGES, GESASE and SYDASE, by the Greek Farming Insurance Fund (ELGA) between 2007 and 2011.

Initial findings of the report were presented to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who last month announced that ELGA funding would no longer go to the cooperatives but to farmers with large families. The 3 million euros that had been earmarked for the three cooperatives for 2012 will go to such families, Samaras said.

The probe into the unions’ finances hints at the total absence of any legislative framework for the management of the millions of euros that flowed into their coffers. For instance, PASEGES, the country’s largest farming union, was found to have covered the cost of an apartment for its president in Athens, including the 900-euro monthly rent and utility bills, sources revealed.