*home* Financial Crime Investigation Service under The Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania

EU and Lithuanian institutions agreed: focus on fighting fraud against EU funds will only increase

EU and Lithuanian institutions agreed: focus on fighting fraud against EU funds will only increase

The leaders of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the Ministry of the Interior, the Financial Crime Investigation Service (FCIS) and other institutions responsible for the protection of the European Union's (EU's) financial interests, who met in Vilnius, have unanimously agreed that cooperation between the Member States and the EU institutional needs to be the closest possible to ensure the efficient use of EU funds and prevent fraud.

"The EU is investing unprecedented amounts of money into our economy, our society, our environment. It is important that we work together like never before to protect this money that comes from European taxpayers. Fraud schemes are becoming more and more sophisticated and do not stop at national borders. When we work together, we create a net that detects and stops fraudsters", said OLAF Director-General Ville Itälä.

Agnė Bilotaitė, Minister of the Interior, emphasized that exceptional attention is paid to the fight against fraud in obtaining EU funds in Lithuania.

"We must ensure that EU support, which makes up a fifth of Lithuania's budget, is transparently distributed in all sectors of the economy or business. It is our responsibility to protect these funds, and it is the duty of FNTT to ensure this", emphasized the Minister of the Interior, Agnė Bilotaitė.

Since 2002, the FCIS has been responsible for cooperation with OLAF and is the main authority for investigating criminal offences and other irregularities related to the illegal receipt and use of EU funds.

According to the Director of the FCIS, Rolandas Kiškis, the recent cooperation between OLAF and the FCIS in the field of training has provided officers with a lot of specific knowledge, which has enabled them to carry out investigations more efficiently, to make use of more technological solutions, and to apply more effective criminal intelligence.

"Investigations are becoming more and more complex and crimes are no longer limited to the borders of one country. The number of crimes against EU funding is only increasing. The Service is currently carrying out 26 pre-trial investigations into the possible fraudulent acquisition of EU funding and public funds worth almost €7.6 million. Today, it is crucial to assess the potential risks of fraud against EU funds in advance, to strengthen analytical capacity and to use the most advanced analytical tools. OLAF experts have gained a lot of experience in this area and we hope to take this experience and use it in our own investigations by strengthening our cooperation", said R. Kiškis.

In the course of these pre-trial investigations, which involve more than 97 criminal offences, property rights to more than €39 million worth of assets have been seized and 76 natural persons have been indicted on suspicion in order to secure compensation for possible damage caused.

In 2023, procedural decisions were taken in 7 pre-trial investigations on fraudulently obtained EU and State funds, in which 17 natural persons and 3 legal persons were suspected, and in one investigation the suspect voluntarily repaid the full amount of the damage of nearly € 600 000. In 2022, the amount of illegally received and attempted EU support funds in FCIS investigations amounts to almost € 12 million.

About OLAF

OLAF's mission is to detect, investigate and protect the EU budget. OLAF investigates cases of fraud, corruption and serious irregularities affecting the EU budget, as well as cases of suspected misconduct by staff or members of the EU’s institutions. OLAF also shapes the European Commission's anti-fraud policy.

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