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Banana fraud is uncovered

20 May 2004

 The EU's anti-fraud office announced the discovery of illegal imports
 of bananas using false licences on July 9th 2002. This illegal trafficking
 in bananas made hundreds of millions of euros for the unscrupulous
 traders involved, and covered the whole of central and southern
 Italy. Indeed there were even links to France, Spain and Portugal.
 Uncovering the fraud was, however, purely fortuitous, for at the
 outset the Italian authorities' enquires were aimed at monitoring
 a vessel suspected of carrying cocaine. According to the Italian
 investigator 'more profit can be made from this type of fraud than
 from serious crime such as importing a tonne of cocaine'. Four factors
 were seen to have made this fraud possible:

  • the complex nature of Community regulations;
  • the transnational nature of the fraud;
  • the existence of an organised criminal system;
  • the dispersal of judicial authorities throughout the entire
     European Union.