Italian town used EU funds for weddings and villas: police
(ROME) - Italian state and European Union funds to develop the tourism sector were used to restore villas and pay for lavish weddings in a town in southern Italy, the tax police said on Thursday after an investigation.
Police have seized bank accounts, cars and properties and a total of 63 people are being investigated -- almost all of them from the town of Vibo Valentia in the Calabria region, a stronghold for the 'Ndrangheta organised crime group.
The funds had been given to Vibo Valentia to build bed-and-breakfasts and two of the accused are officials from the regional administration in charge of disbursing the money. Twenty business owners are also among the accused.
"The seizures carried out by the tax police concern the illegality characterised by illicit enrichment at the expense of the state and the European Union," Mario Spagnuolo, the local chief prosecutor, told reporters.
Tax police officers said they had so far managed to trace 1.3 million euros ($1.7 million) in fraudulently used money and said the fraud was particularly serious as the region is badly in need of more tourist infrastructure.
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