European anti fraud agency investigating Greece’s use of funding for refugees

Following numerous allegations of the potential misuse of EU funds, the European Anti-Fraud Agency (OLAF) is investigating the Greek government over how money that was meant for refugees has been spent. The anti fraud watchdog say they are looking at “alleged irregularities concerning the provision of EU-funded food for refugees in Greece”. This was launched after information was submitted to the Commission earlier in the year.

This follows the arrest of three journalists from the Greek newspaper Fileleftheros. In an article, they claim that money that was meant to provide food for refugees was being spent on other things. They said that some of the funding was paid to business people that knew the defence minister Panos Kammenos personally. This included various contracts like catering and plumbing, which were also priced much higher than competitors.

Last year, a petition was put forward to the European Parliament by NGO SolidarityNow. The group called for investigations to be carried out into the potential misuse of funds, which were meant for aiding refugees in the country. They pointed out that the poor living conditions of refugees were not consistent with the funding that Greece had received from the EU to improve its asylum procedures.

Additionally, in the last few weeks, Medecins San Frontieres (MSF) put forward a complaint about the conditions of refugees in Greece. They urged for investigations into the living conditions and treatment of refugees to be looked at, in particular, in the Moria camp on Lesvos. They said that the 1.6 billion euros the government received for refugees from the EU needs to be investigated.

The agency (OLAF) haven’t commented on the investigation yet as they are still gathering evidence. However, a spokesperson said that they had discovered “certain irregularities from the Ministry of Defence with a food contractor,” during their annual audits in October. The spokesperson added: “As the investigation is on-going, OLAF cannot issue any further comment at this stage. The fact that OLAF is examining the matter does not mean that any persons/entities involved have committed an irregularity/fraud.”

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