This morning, EULEX police officers from the Organised Crime Investigation Unit carried out a search and arrest operation, related to a major investigation into alleged corruption and procurement fraud.
The alleged fraud relates to procurement procedures at Kosovo Police and business suppliers of police weapons and ammunition. Due to this alleged fraud, the Kosovo Police budget has suffered losses that could amount to millions of euros, which make Kosovo Police the primary victim in this affair.
Our police reform agenda might be made more urgent by spending cuts, but it’s not just about managing smaller budgets. Overdue action to cut out inefficiency and waste, a ruthless assault on targets and bureaucracy, a restoration of police discretion and independence, a National Crime Agency to get tough on organised crime, the most transparent crime data in the world, and a new model of accountability that puts the people in charge of policing.
THE International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and Greenpeace have released the results of investigations into alleged malpractice in the Spanish fishing industry.
The ICIJ investigation claims that the Spanish fishing industry has received more than €5.8 billion in subsidies since 2000 to expand its capacity and global reach, but that public fortune supports a fleet with an extensive record of flouting rules and breaking the law.
Meanwhile Greenpeace say they have revealed how Spain, by far the most influential nation in the formulation of Europe’s Common Fisheries Policy, is repeatedly and systematically overlooking illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing by its huge fleet throughout European waters and beyond.
The probe into the Spanish fishing industry by the ICIJ is the latest instalment of Looting the Seas, an ongoing investigation into ‘the forces that are rapidly depleting ocean resources’.
The ICIJ says that while European Union officials scramble in a last-ditch effort to save what are left of declining fish stocks, a look at the Spanish fleet – the region’s most powerful player – shows what they are up against.
“Fish are not an unlimited resource,” said fisheries economist Andrew Dyck of University of British Columbia. “When the public purse is the only thing propping this industry up, we are paying for resource degradation.”
ICIJ says its analysis is the first in-depth look at how much public aid Spain has received, primarily from the EU, but also from the national and regional governments.
“Subsidies keep the Spanish industry afloat. They account for a third of the sector’s value. Simply put, nearly one-in-three fish caught on a hook or raised in a farm is paid for with public money,” the ICIJ claims.
Among the findings of the ICIJ study are:
In a new report titled ‘Ocean Inquirer’ by Greenpeace, the campaigning organisation takes as a case study one Galician family whose companies have received over €16 million in subsidies from European taxpayers to fund a long list of criminal activities.
Greenpeace say: “The Vidal family’s many ships have been found conducting IUU fishing for decades, right around the world, and been prosecuted in the US, the UK and in the Pacific and the Spanish government have promised on numerous occasions to investigate and put an end to these abuses. But what they have actually done is fund them – with our money.
“Spain has the largest fishing fleet in Europe, maintained with billions in subsidies – more than double the amount of subsidies received by any other EU nation. The Spanish fleet has exploited the CFP to infiltrate the fleets of other European nations and take their fishing quotas, and it is widely recognised that without a proper investigation and reform of the Spanish industry, a CFP which actually fulfils its purpose of managing Europe’s fishing industry in a sustainable manner is highly unlikely.
“The case study of the Vidal family documents their long history of illegal fishing, their prosecutions and convictions and their frequently successful attempts to avoid justice, and Spain’s continuing failure to deal with an issue which has been raised with them on numerous occasions. It also reveals new evidence on Vidal’s latest business venture, an alleged fish oil factory in Galicia. This factory is not currently operational, many months after its claimed opening date, and yet has already earned the Vidal family another €6.5 million in EU subsidies.
Greenpeace oceans campaigner Ariana Densham said: “According to some estimates, up to 49% of the global catch is illegal, unreported and unregulated and this is one of the reasons why our over-exploited fisheries are in such rapid decline. The fact that in Europe this theft of fish is being subsidised by taxpayers’ money, that we’re actually paying pirates to steal our fish, destroy one of our oldest industries and devastate the marine environment, shows just how corrupted the CFP is.”
She continued: “If we want to avoid jellyfish and chips becoming our new national dish, the first thing we need to do is properly investigate this sort of abuse and make certain that any subsidies under the new CFP go to fishing which is sustainable and legal.”
Greenpeace are calling for a full EU investigation into subsidies given to the Spanish fishing industry, and for all future subsidies to be given to legal, transparent and sustainable fishing practices, consistent with the CFP’s stated objectives.
The Greenpeace report:
The ICIJ investigation: http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/icij/
Public funds should be made fully traceable to prevent mafia-style organisations from misusing them, says a resolution approved by the Civil Liberties Committee on Thursday. MEPs also call for a special EP committee to investigate infiltration of the public sector and the legal economy by organised crime.
Organised crime, especially Mafia-style crime, takes advantage of globalisation, the abolition of borders in the EU and differences among EU Member States’ laws to make substantial profits and go unpunished. This is possible because criminal organisations have created a support network and consolidated infiltrations into the political world, the civil service and the legal economy, says the resolution.
WEST Australian Premier Colin Barnett will push ahead with a bid to expand the Crime and Corruption Commission’s “extraordinary powers” to fight organised crime, despite high-level opposition.
Mr Barnett says a bill to empower the CCC to investigate organised crime directly will be introduced soon, despite a parliamentary committee and others rejecting the recommendation.
Conspiracy laws sighting all of the participants with a euphemistic bull’s eye on their backs was the most proactive and strategic instrument ever designed to hunt organized criminals. These laws allow for the holding of all players culpable at all levels, regardless if they know of each other’s existence; or whether or not they see or touch the contraband.