The Dutch banking giant Rabobank is accused of profiting off the back of fraud, forgery and the systematic abuse of hundreds of Romania's poorest citizens, in a huge and aggressive land grab in Eastern Europe.

Backed by investments from US and Dutch pension funds and working on the ground with local mafias and corrupt politicians, Rabobank allegedly is buying up €615 million worth of land in Poland and Romania, with the intention of selling off after 14 years at a predicted profit of around 300%.

Over the course of 9 months, an international team of four journalists gathered hundreds of documents and testimonies to detail how Rabobank allegedly bought illegally acquired land from local scouts and intermediaries, who in turn used fraudulent and abusive methods to obtain the land. Rabobank has then rented the land to dozens of politicians and convicted crooks and, with very dubious legality, used their EU farm subsidies as rent guarantees.

Land Grabbing in the EU unearths the realities of Europe’s land bubble for those at the continents poorest fringes, and highlights the need for the EU to address its rural development policies.

This project was shortlisted for the Investigative Reporting Award of the 2016 European Press Prize.

Illustration: © Gijs Kast

Team members

Luke Dale-Harris

Luke Dale-Harris is a freelance investigative reporter based in Romania and the UK. 

Sorin Semeniuc

Sorin Semeniuc is an award-winning journalist and reporter for the national daily Romania Libera.

Sorin Semeniuc

Beata Biel

Beata Biel is an award winning Polish journalist and documentary filmaker.

Grant of €5.700, allocated on 15/12/2014

need resources for your own investigative story?

Journalismfund Europe's flexible grants programmes enable journalists to produce relevant public interest stories with a European mind-set from international, national, and regional perspectives.


support independent cross-border investigative journalism

We rely on your support to continue the work that we do. Make a gift of any amount today.