Auteur: | By Lucia Kubosova
The EU's anti-fraud office, Olaf, is investigating around 32 aid NGOs from ten countries for fraud in development aid-related projects.
The inquiry was launched four years ago and it has moved from a set of individual cases to evidence of systematic fraud in the area of EU funded activities.
"There has been a pattern of fraud. They get project funding from the commission, but then draw money from the World Bank or the US government using two sets of invoices," Olaf's spokesman told The Daily Telegraph.
He added the fraud involves "a lot of money", while refusing to reveal the names of charities.
Contracts for NGOs usually range from €50,000 to €400,000, while the UN agencies or big international groups get much larger grants.
The EU spends around €7bn a year on foreign aid. The 2005 budget proposed by the Commission puts aside around €5.6bn for emergency aid reserve, for projects like post-tsunami reconstruction.
Brussels will send around €3.5bn of development aid to the poorest regions of Africa, Carribean and Pacific during this year.
Olaf is assigned to protect the EU's interests, to fight fraud, corruption and any other irregular activity, including misconduct within the bloc's institutions.