EU Anti-Fraud Watchdog Probes Possible Misuse of Refugee Funds in Greece



The European Union anti-fraud watchdog is investigating possible misuse of EU funds provided for food for refugees in Greece, a Politico report says.

The probe comes after the detention on Saturday of three journalists from Greek newspaper Fileleftheros (Liberal) following a libel suit filed by Greece’s Defense Minister Panos Kammenos over an article alleging mishandling of EU funds meant for reception centers for migrants.

A spokesperson for the European Anti-Fraud Agency (OLAF) declined to go into detail about the investigation or say whether it was related to the newspaper allegations, the Politico report says.

The investigation into “alleged irregularities concerning the provision of EU-funded food for refugees in Greece” was launched based on information submitted by the European Commission‘s directorate-general for migration and home affairs in 2017, the spokesperson told Politico.

“As the investigation is ongoing, OLAF cannot issue any further comment at this stage,” the spokesperson said in an email, adding that “the fact that OLAF is examining the matter does not mean that any persons/entities involved have committed an irregularity/fraud.”

The Fileleftheros story alleges that businesspeople close to Kammenos received some of the EU funding through contracts for catering and plumbing. The article said some businesses routinely overcharged for such contracts and often did not participate in competitive tenders.

Last week, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) complained about the squalid and dangerous conditions at the overcrowded Moria refugee camp on Lesvos. Opposition parties also called for a probe on the €1.6 billion the Greek government received for the refugees from the EU.