As each ETC Programme finances projects through EU and public funding, we are committed to protect the EU and public funds that have been entrusted to us. Therefore, we wish to be clearly perceived as opposed to fraud and corruption.
The term fraud is commonly used to describe a wide range of misconducts including theft, corruption, embezzlement, bribery, forgery, misrepresentation, collusion, money laundering and concealment of material facts. It often involves the use of deception to make a personal gain for oneself, a connected person or a third party, or a loss for another.
The EU Treaty defines fraud, in respect of expenditure, as an intentional act or omission related to:
- The use or presentation of false, incorrect or incomplete statements or documents, which has as its effect the misappropriation or wrongful retention of funds from the EU.
- Non-disclosure of information in violation of a specific obligation, with the same effect;
- The misapplication of such funds for purposes other than those for which they were originally granted
Intention is the key element that distinguishes fraud from irregularity. Intentional deceit is not easy to prove but there are some tell-tale signs such as:
- Motive – Pressure for results, financial hardship, revenge
- Opportunity – Controls not functioning, staff changes/losses, tolerance
- Repetition – If not detected it is repeated
- Concealment – Attempt to cover up the evidence
Fraud does not just have a potential financial impact, but it can cause damage to the reputation of an organisation responsible for effectively and efficiently managing funds. This is of particular importance for a public organisation responsible for the management of public funding in general and EU funding in particular.
The fraudsters one may encounter could be:
- Members of the public – Either opportunistic or serial fraudsters, who take advantage of grants provided by your government or the EU
- Suppliers and contractors – Employees of external firms who spot the opportunity to exploit processes or systems
- Insiders – A dishonest minority working within an organisation and either perpetrating fraud themselves or helping fraudsters on the outside
- Serious organised criminals – Who target organisations to obtain funds fraudulently and work across a number of member state.
Corruption is the abuse of power for private gain. It undermines rule of law, distorts fair competition, and corrodes the social fabric of society and trust in public institutions.
Conflict of interests exists where the impartial and objective exercise of the official functions of a person are compromised for reasons involving family, emotional life, economic interest or any other shared interest with e.g. an applicant for or a recipient of EU funds. This is particularly important to prevent within an EU grant beneficiary when dealing with public procurement contracts.
The Managing Authority has a zero tolerance policy to fraud and corruption. We have identified the most likely areas for fraud in our Programmes and projects and have set up robust control systems, measures and procedures in order to follow up on all suspected cases that will be highlighted to us.
With our Member State representatives, we will furthermore seek action on national level in line with their administrative and legal procedures, wherever the need arises.
The Managing Authority expects all employees and representatives of the three ETC Programmes and the European Initiative UIA to be an example in ensuring adherence to legal requirements, regulations, codes of conduct, procedures and practices.
Through this anti-fraud policy we clearly put forward our intention:
- to promote a culture which deters fraudulent activity
- to facilitate the prevention and detection of fraud
- to develop procedures which will aid in the investigation of fraud and related offences and which will ensure that such cases are dealt in a timely and appropriate manner.
The responsibility for an anti-fraud culture is the joint work of all those involved in the EU programmes/initiative and projects. We therefore also encourage all partners, contractors, employees, or the public to do their utmost to prevent fraud from happening, to put into place proportionate measures to detect it and to come forward with any suspicion of fraud in relation to our programmes.
If you wish to report suspicion of fraud, please send relevant information to the following email address: lanceur.alertes(at)hautsdefrance.fr, which is accessed by the Director of the legal affairs department of the Hauts-de-France Region.