European Anti-Fraud Office

What we do

What we do

What is OLAF

The European Union budget finances a wide range of programmes and projects which improve the lives of citizens across the EU and beyond. The improper use of funds provided by the EU budget or the evasion of the taxes, duties and levies, which fund the EU budget directly harms European citizens and prejudices the entire European project.

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is the only EU body mandated to detect, investigate and stop fraud with EU funds. While it has an individual independent status in its investigative function, OLAF is also part of the European Commission, under the responsibility of Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner in charge of Budget & Human Resources.

OLAF fulfils its mission by:

  • carrying out independent investigations into fraud and corruption involving EU funds, so as to ensure that all EU taxpayers’ money reaches projects that can create jobs and growth in Europe;
  • contributing to strengthening citizens’ trust in the EU Institutions by investigating serious misconduct by EU staff and members of the EU Institutions;
  • developing a sound EU anti-fraud policy.

What does OLAF do

OLAF can investigate matters relating to fraud, corruption and other offences affecting the EU financial interests concerning:

  • all EU expenditure: the main spending categories are Structural Funds, agricultural policy and rural development funds, direct expenditure and external aid;
  • some areas of EU revenue, mainly customs duties;
  • suspicions of serious misconduct by EU staff and members of the EU institutions.

The lifecycle of an OLAF investigation

OLAF receives information about possible fraud and irregularities from a wide range of sources. In most cases, this information results from controls by those responsible for managing EU funds within the European Institutions or in the Member States.

All allegations received by OLAF undergo an initial assessment to determine whether the allegation falls within the remit of the Office and meets the criteria for opening an investigation.

When a case is opened, it is classified under one of the following three categories:

  • Internal investigations: Internal investigations are administrative investigations within the European Union institutions and bodies for the purpose of detecting fraud, corruption, and any other illegal activity affecting the financial interests of the European Communities; including serious matters relating to the discharge of professional duties.
  • External investigations: External investigations are administrative investigations outside the European Union institutions and bodies for the purpose of detecting fraud or other irregular conduct by natural or legal persons. Cases are classified as external investigations where OLAF provides the majority of the investigative input.
  • Coordination cases: OLAF contributes to investigations carried out by national authorities or other Community departments by facilitating the gathering and exchange of information and contacts.

Guidelines on Investigation Procedures for OLAF Staff
Management plan 2016
Strategic plan 2016-2020