The EU's anti-fraud agency OLAF last year opened 39 new probes into financial irregularities involving EU agriculture programmes and at least 25 could generate criminal charges, according to its latest report.

With OLAF investigations lasting on average two years, these inquiries are ongoing and reflect continuing efforts by Brussels-based OLAF to squeeze fraud from EU food subsidy spending. 

The agency's annual report also outlines some uncovered scams. One involved 3,400 tonnes of sugar exported to Croatia from the EU via the Russian Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, rather than Croatia’s land borders with member states Hungary and Slovenia. 

Investigations showed exporters had falsely claimed Russia was the final destination, claiming export refunds not available for Croatia exports. Some EUR1.2m in lost subsidies were recovered and EUR1.5m of payments blocked.