Vertical Bio, everybody acquitted. But the Italian Organic sector has been sullied


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On 16th December 2022 the Court of Pesaro acquitted all the 23 defendants and the 6 companies involved in the investigation started in 2013 by the Prosecutor’s Office of Marche Region’s County Seat. The prosecution alleged a 32 million Euros fraud for importing and trading “fake organic” foodstuffs.

The public prosecutor Silvia Cecchi was focusing her attention to the import and trade of 350,000 tonnes of corn, soya, wheat, rapeseed and sunflower seeds mainly used as animals feeding. The import of these certified organic foodstuffs from some Eastern European countries and Asia happened between October 2009 and January 2014 and had a total turnover of 126 million Euros.

The “illicit” profit was calculated to be 32 millions; 23 of these were sequestered by the Italian Financial Police, who will now need to return the money to the rightful owners.
At the end of the preliminary hearing, 23 operators were committed for trial with the charge of transnational criminal conspiracy aimed at fraud during the trading process. Two Italian Certification Bodies and six Organic Processing Companies were put in the dock. They would have been charged for administrative offence, as the crime would have been committed in their interest.
After the acquittal, the lawyer of the Syracuse Court Maurizio Cannistraro, defender of the Certification Body Suolo e Salute and of other companies involved, expressed his satisfaction for the investigation’s result.
He stated: “This investigation has kept us busy over the last few years, reaching two judicial hearings per week. This moment marks the end of a season of harsh debate not only within the Court, but also in the media in Italy and throughout all Europe”.
According to Lawyer Cannistraro – “The inexplicable duplication of the name of the investigation, first called Green War and then Vertical Bio, has massively attracted the media’s attention to the case, damaging the reputation of the Italian organic products, especially in foreign countries. The long trial consisted of 59 judicial hearings that took place over approximately four years (Covid-19 included) and involved transnational implications, which turned out to be acquitted by the Court”.
The Lawyer continued: “If the prosecution wanted to report the crime to be a serious criminal conspiracy in order to get investigation tools that are usually needed for trials with an alarming social involvement (nine people arrested and thousands of telephone tapping), they would need to provide the support to gather more evidence. However, the prosecutors could not provide the support needed”.
Lawyer Luigi Coscia, the defender of Fratelli Grimaldi of Molise and of other companies involved, stressed: “My clients have suffered a considerable damage to their reputation. Dignity and respect must certainly be rebuilt for the people who were unfairly accused and saw their family business defamed after years of work”.
He finally clarified: “We have demonstrated that there was no criminal association, but only the implementation, through licit investments, of an entrepreneurial project for the legal import of cereals to Italy. All transactions have followed the right channels and were subject to official controls required by National and EU regulations for the organic farming sector”.


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