大发彩神8快3官方Italian couple cheats EU out of 1.4 mln to pay castle mortgage

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ROME, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- An Italian couple cheated the European Union out of 1.4 million euros (about 1.7 million U.S. dollars) which they used to pay off a mortgage on a castle, Italy's finance police announced Friday.

In a joint operation with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) code-named Paper Castle, investigators discovered the couple also evaded 2 million euros in taxes through a complex system of shell companies in Italy, France, Romania, Britain and the United States.

Police said the two applied for and obtained EU funding for an entirely fictitious project to build a new hovercraft that can be used as an emergency vehicle in cases of natural disaster.

They then pretended to construct two prototypes of the vehicle, simulating payments and costs through non-existent companies.

The suspects face up to 100 years in prison over charges of embezzlement and fraud against the EU, falsifying company books, and fraudulent bankruptcy, according to a police statement.

Prosecutors in the northwestern city of Genoa have seized the castle, whose location was not disclosed by police.

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