Strengthened sanctions to deter fraud against EU budget
Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 13 gennaio 2017
New rules to tackle and punish fraud against the EU budget establishing criminal penalties, including imprisonment, for the more serious cases were approved on Thursday by the Civil Liberties and Budgetary Control Committees. The text, which was passed with 47 votes to 8, had been informally agreed with the Council in December 2016.MEPs ensured during the negotiation that the rules will also apply to VAT fraud, provided the total damage exceeds 10 million euros, involves more than one member state and is committed in a “structured way” (like carrousel fraud).
The legislation sets a common definition of fraud against the EU´s financial interests, which will include money laundering, passive and active corruption, and misappropriation. All these should be considered criminal offences when committed intentionally, and punished by “dissuasive criminal sanctions”, with a maximum of at least 4 years imprisonment if they involve damages or advantages over 100 000 euros.
Establishing a minimum level of maximum jail sentences should guarantee an equivalent protection of Union´s financial interests in all member states, states the text, adding that the sanctions will serve as a strong deterrent for potential criminals.The prescription period, within which fraud can be investigated and prosecuted, should be of at least five years for the criminal offences potentially subject to prison sentences.Both national and EU officials will be covered by the directive, as well as any other person assigned and exercising a public service function involving the management of EU funds, such as contractors.For offences involving damages below 10 000 and advantages under 100 000 euros, national authorities may choose to apply other than criminal sanctions.
The interinstitutional deal is set to be confirmed by Parliament as a whole, and formally adopted by the Council of Ministers, in the coming weeks. Member states will have two years to transpose the directive into national legislation.