Croatia: EPPO’s first fraud trial ends in verdict
The first Croatian lawsuit initiated by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office regarding the abuse of EU subsidies resulted in a settlement without jail time after the defendant pleaded guilty, reports the news agency TPortal.
The case involving Danijel Vinković, a farmer, received considerable media attention, which praised the newly created European Public Prosecutor’s Office for “to do the job that Croatia apparently does not want to do”.
The prosecutor’s office indicted Mr Vinković in May for illegally claiming agricultural subsidies worth around 1 million euros.
According to the indictment, Mr Vinković had applied in 2020 for an agricultural subsidy worth 7.4 million kuna (€985,000) from the Croatian state agency for payments relating to the agriculture, fisheries and rural development.
But the investigation shows that Mr. Vinković falsified documents, in particular a false confirmation of his status in the register of taxpayers. Mr. Vinković admitted the facts.
The funds, 85% of which were to come from the EU and 15% from the Croatian state budget, were never disbursed as the agency ultimately found that Mr Vinković was not eligible.
Mr Vinković pleaded guilty in Zagreb County Court on Monday (July 11) and was sentenced to ten months of community service instead of the corresponding prison term.
In addition, the county court in Zagreb on Friday (July 8), on the basis of the conclusions of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, ordered the detention of the former Minister of Agriculture and Regional Development, Tomislav Tolušić, suspected of fraud wine subsidies from European funds.
Mr. Tolušić declared through his lawyer that he had committed no fault and appealed against the decision of the month-long detention.
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