The European Public Prosecutor’s Office suspects three people of setting up an organized criminal group, at the beginning of 2018, in order to defraud European funds for the development of the Danube Delta (Regional Operational Program 2014-2020).

EPPO claims that the suspects have developed a scheme with seven companies, controlled either directly or through intermediaries.

“The criminal group continues to this day, with each of the suspects having a well-established role and acting in a coordinated manner,” the European Public Prosecutor’s Office said. used in other areas of Romania, outside the Danube Delta.

“The suspects have devised a system by which, on the basis of inaccurate documents, they have created a false appearance regarding the place of implementation of the projects, the existence of financial resources related to their own contribution and the transparent organization of procurement procedures. The manipulation of public procurement procedures has led to the setting of artificially high prices “, EPPO mentions.

The third suspect allegedly supplied equipment to the four companies controlled by the other two at an overvalued price. “Given that the equipment was purchased with European funds (approximately 70%), the group’s interest was to keep the purchase prices as high as possible, in order to obtain the highest possible reimbursement of European funds. Subsequently, the difference between the real price and the purchase price declared to the managing authority remained at the disposal of the group “, the Prosecutor’s Office led by Kovesi also claims.

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The European institution also details how this fraud scheme worked.

“In order to overestimate the value of the equipment, three other companies were used, all controlled by the third suspect: the equipment was imported into Romania through the first company and then sold to a second company, registered in Bulgaria. Then a first price increase took place. The Bulgarian-based company subsequently sold the equipment to companies controlled by the other two members of the group at increased prices again. In order to create an apparent justification for this price increase, a third company was used, creating the appearance that services were provided associated with the equipment sold to the beneficiaries of European funds and in whose accounts the amounts resulting from the price increase were transferred “, explains the Prosecutor’s Office. European.

One billion euros for the Danube Delta. How the money was spent

The publications Info-Sud-Est.ro and G4Media.ro revealed, in a press investigation, that one billion euros of European money was shared by a handful of people connected through personal relationships, business or political interests. The money was sent by Brussels through the Danube Delta Integrated Territorial Investment Facility (ITD DD), with the largest budget of all ITIs in Europe.

The ITI DD tool was designed during the time of former European Fund Minister Eugen Teodorovici, who a few years later returned to the position of auditor of the Court of Auditors, where he should have investigated how the European money that was shared was spent. during his term as Minister.

Teodorovici ended his work three days after the publication of the investigation into how the billion euros from the European Union were spent. He claimed that his resignation was not related to the publication of the investigation and that he had long wanted to work in the private sector.

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At the same time, Teodorovici criticized the way the money was spent for the private sector and says that it is “the biggest misappropriation of funds since the Revolution”, because the money coming from Brussels should have been found in the communities of Tulcea, not outside the county.

Although the ITI DD mechanism was intended “with priority” for the Danube Delta, less than 15% of projects got there. For example, less money has been invested in clearing lakes and canals than in renovating churches. Eugen Teodorovici acknowledged that there were “certain blockages and even deviations from the ITI DD strategy”, and some projects are long overdue.

OLAF announced in June 2021 that it is investigating how the € 1 billion in the Danube Delta was spent. The European Commission also confirmed that it has suspended payments from the Danube Delta ITI program, the European mechanism of over 1.1 billion euros, which should have been spent on developing the communities in Tulcea and the Danube Delta and raising living standards.

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