More than half a billion euros of European Union funds were misused in 2021, EU’s top fraud watchdog, OLAF, revealed in an annual report on Wednesday.
The anti-fraud agency reported that €527 million ($564 million) was misused or misappropriated last year, an increase of nearly €234 million compared to 2020.
OLAF is tasked with uncovering and preventing fraudulent activity with EU funds.
In 2021, the Brussels-based authority opened 234 new investigations while finishing 212 cases.
Investigations uncovered fraudsters’ attempts to target the European Union’s flagship economic recovery fund for COVID-19, involving scams for software projects and more environmentally friendly aircraft.
OLAF also investigated fake offers of COVID-19 vaccines to EU member states, worth an estimated $16 billion, amounting to 1.2 billion vaccine doses.
The EU fraud watchdog also prevented 437 million illicit cigarettes from entering the European Union’s market and helped national authorities confiscate 372 tonnes of raw tobacco. (NAN)