The European Union pays out $65 billion in farm subsidies every year, but some of this money is going into the pockets of oligarchs and other powerful individuals, the New York Times reported Sunday.
European farm subsidies are meant to help farmers across the 28-member states. However, a New York Times investigation, conducted in nine-European countries, said that the EU's distribution of farm subsidies is "deliberately opaque, gross undermines the European Union's environment goals and is warped by corruption and self-dealing."
The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said Monday that it "has zero tolerance for fraud with European Union funds and therefore insists on a clear commitment from member states to prevent fraud."
Nonetheless, the Times investigation argued that in Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban uses European funds to enrich those in his inner circles, including family members, while also punishing his political rivals. Meanwhile, in the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Andrej Babis allegedly collected at least $42 million in farming funds in 2018. Babis has denied any wrongdoing.
European funds are allocated based on the size of the land owned by a farmer. Often, in former Soviet countries, the governments are the biggest land owners.
The European Commission said Monday that European governments have the biggest responsibility in checking the allocation of funds.
"According to the shared management principal, member states are primarily responsible for the sound and legal management of EU funds," a spokesperson for the commission told reporters.
To read the full The New York Times investigation click here.