European Commission Suspends €112M Albania Agriculture Fund Over Fraud

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News in brief: The European Commission has stopped funding agriculture projects in Albania due to corruption and fraud reports received from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). The decision serves to protect the EU’s financial interests, and further investigations are ongoing to address the allegations.

The European Commission has halted funding agriculture projects in Albania over corruption and fraud reports. In its statement to the government, which it shared to media outlets, the commission said that it undertook the measure as a preventive one. The measure, the commission further notes, serves as a protection of the EU’s financial interests.

It added that the decision was based on preliminary information it received from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), after an investigation into corruption charges during the implementation of the IPARD II project.

The project, which is short for Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance Rural Development Programme, aims to help EU candidate countries develop their agricultural sectors.

Albania was to receive €112 million from the disbursement plan. Other eligible candidate countries included Turkey, Montenegro, Serbia and North Macedonia and the total budget was about €1 billion.

Several reports reveal that corruption is widespread in Albania, including one about a former Deputy Prime Minister, Arben Ahmetaj, facing corruption charges and the Special Prosecution Office receiving permission to arrest him.

The European Commission revealed that investigation into the allegations is still underway and it will share findings with Albanian authorities when the final report is available. It also emphasised that it will undertake any necessary measure to protect the EU’s financial interests.

OLAF is fully independent and part of its mission includes internal and external investigations. It coordinates with its anti-fraud partners in the member states to fight against fraud.

Joseph Akahome
Joseph Akahome
Joseph O Akahome (OJ) is a writer, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Literature from the University of Benin. He is an avid agriculturist, with a bias for poultry and an insatiable appetite for chicken wings. When he is neither reading nor researching, he likes to spend recreational time playing board games, or swimming in serene forested lakes.

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