The European Union's anti-fraud office OLAF wants to see the recovery of more than €500 million of EU funds that were lost to fraud last year.

In its report into its 2021 activities, OLAF says it concluded 212 investigations and issued 294 recommendations to the relevant national and European authorities. It has recommended that efforts should be made to recover €527.4 million that was spent from the EU budget – money that OLAF believes was obtained fraudulently.

In OLAF's report into its investigations, it identifies waste disposal and Covid-19 medical supplies as being two of the areas where fraud was rife on a large scale. OLAF says that it also began collaborating with the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), with at least 85 cases being opened due to cooperation between the two bodies.

OLAF has also warned that the war in Ukraine may prompt increased levels of fraud, with the breakdown in established systems providing the opportunities for those who are looking to make fraudulent and other illegal gains.

As a body that combats fraud and corruption in the EU, OLAF's recommendation that over €500 million of EU funds be recovered this year is a clear sign of the scale of the fraud that it has recognised. In comparison the UK's HMRC Taxpayer Protection Taskforce is expected to recover up to £1.5 billion from fraudulent or incorrect payments by the end of this financial year.

Both figures indicate the extent to which fraud poses a problem for the authorities.

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