Fruit fraud in the EU

ROME (Reuters) – Italian police have arrested 45 people accused of a 50-million-euro fraud involving European Union subsidies for citrus farmers in the southern region of Calabria, Italian and EU officials announced yesterday. The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) said Calabrian fruit producers and processors had claimed and received EU aid for «non-existent» oranges and other citrus fruits supposedly processed into concentrated juice and sold. One company investigated had «large-scale sales of juice to companies in Spain and France» on its books, but investigators who went to the delivery addresses «found only apartment blocks, a museum and a hardware store,» OLAF said in a statement. Italian police said 15 of the suspects were being held in custody while 30 others were under house arrest. They include regional officials, heads of farm cooperatives, producers and processors who are facing charges of fraud and corruption.

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