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Aquaculture producers suspected of €4.5M fraud in Italy

December 7, 2023  By Hatchery International staff

Three aquaculture producers are suspected of committing €4.5 million (US$4.86 million) fraud involving European Union maritime and fisheries funds.

These charges come from an investigation conducted by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), an independent public prosecution office for the European Union. Since starting operations on June 1, 2021, EPPO has registered more than 4,000 crime reports from participating EU Member States and private parties and over 929 investigations have been opened (as of June 2022). Members of the public can report crime to EPPO using a special web form.

The companies allegedly received about €4.5 million from the Regions of Sicily, Lazio and Tuscany, under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Program 2014-2020, for the construction and refurbishment of production sites. However, the investigation revealed that these works were assigned to a company that belonged to the same corporate structure as the companies benefitting from the money.

“According to the evidence, this allowed for the costs of the project to be inflated and for the organization to obtain illicit profits – which were then used for ends other than those established under the projects,” information from EPPO states.


The investigation was conducted in Palermo and Rome. “Coercive measures were decreed” against the suspects who run a string of companies in aquaculture with headquarters in the province of Rome, and offices in Petrosino, Rome, Guidonia and Piombino. 

“The companies form a complete supply chain, from the breeding of fish to the production of sushi for supermarkets and restaurants, serving markets throughout Italy,” the EPPO statement said. 

The judge for preliminary investigations of Tivoli ordered the house arrest of one suspect, and the requirement to stay in the municipality of residence for two others. The judge ordered a seizure of €4.5 million against six companies operated by the suspects, executed on Dec. 5 by the Italian Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza) – Provincial Command of Trapani.

All persons concerned are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty before the Italian courts of law.


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