The Central Baltic Programme 2014-2020 finances result orientated cross-border cooperation projects in Estonia, Finland (incl Åland), Latvia and Sweden

Central Baltic stand on fraud: zero-tolerance

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 - 16:31
The Central Baltic programme uses public funds to reach commonly defined objectives for the good of our regions. All elements of that sentence mean that we have to spend that money very wisely and correctly. Therefore, the programme has a zero-tolerance for fraud as it is one of the saddest forms of misuse of public funds. 
We can all make mistakes - and honestly, we all do make mistakes. The difference between an honest mistake and fraud is that of intentionality. Fraud can take many forms, from filling your timesheet with hours you never worked to fixing a procurement so that the service will go to a specific person or company to lying in the Application Form or report, to reporting costs that don’t belong to this project - the list could go on.
The zero-tolerance for fraud is inbuilt into our systems and checks at all levels. We check the people that decide about projects or payments for conflict of interest and impartiality and, where needed, exclude them from decision-making on individual projects. We train our staff and highlight the importance of keeping their eyes open and maintaining professional scepticism. For reported activities and costs we have several levels of checks, which are independent of each other and look at things from a different angle.
Unfortunately, suspicions of fraud are not completely alien to us. During the past half a year there have been a few cases where someone in the programme has had to ask the question: Can this have been fraud?
In these cases we have launched internal discussions and further checks. Based on the facts identified we have deducted any suspicious costs. In case of suspicions of fraud, the programme’s Managing Authority has also had to take the official steps: report the cases to the police and to the European Anti-Fraud Office. 
For us, even one case where we have to ask ourselves such serious and unpleasant questions is too much. At the same time it is important to remember that out of 97 approved projects only a few have had limited activities that we are looking into.
We continue our work to support our projects in reaching the promised results that will bring benefit for our region. We do this with our eyes and ears open. We call upon you that are involved in our projects to stay committed to our common cause. And for you who are a tax payer of the European Union we tell that your money is safe with us.
For more details on our anti-fraud policy you can visit our website.

Merike Niitepõld/ Central Baltic Programme Managing Authority