Monday, January 24, 2005

MEPs probe butter fraud

The budgetary control committee of the European Parliament is to probe a fraud scandal involving fake Italian butter that dates back five years. The Italburro affair became public after police discovered that a milk processing plant in Naples had produced large quantities of artificial butter using synthetic ingredients. This led to the payment of hundreds of millions of euros in production and export subsidies in Italy, France, Germany and Belgium

MEPs want the Commission to be more proactive in recovering the money. Legal proceedings were not begun in Belgium until 2003 and action has been confined to administrative fines in Germany. That is, however, more progress than has been made in France where the fraudulently claimed subsidies amount to €100m, but no court case has been brought against anyone involved.

Twelve people are now behind bars in Italy, but not before there had been two members linked to the case.

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