What we do

Who we are

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

While it has an individual independent status for the investigative function, OLAF is also part of the European Commission, under the responsibility of Algirdas Ĺ emetaAll available translations., Commissioner in charge of Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud.

The mission of the European Anti-Fraud Office is threefold:

  • it protects the financial interests of the European Union (EU) by investigating fraud, corruption and any other illegal activities;
  • it detects and investigates serious matters relating to the discharge of professional duties by members and staff of the EU institutions and bodies that could result in disciplinary or criminal proceedings;
  • it supports the EU institutions, in particular the European Commission, in the development and implementation of anti-fraud legislation and policies.

By performing its mission as effectively as possible OLAF contributes to the efforts made by the EU Institutions to guarantee that the best use is made of taxpayers’ money.

What we do

OLAF has budgetary and administrative autonomy, designed to make it operationally independent.

OLAF is empowered to conduct in full independence:

  • internal investigations. i.e. inside any European institution or body funded by the EU budget.
  • external investigations. i.e. at national level, wherever the EU budget is at stake. For this purpose, OLAF may conduct on-the-spot checks and inspections on the premises of economic operators, in close cooperation with the competent Member State and third-country authorities.

OLAF is receiving an increasing quantity of information about possible frauds 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 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 four 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.
  • Criminal assistance cases: Criminal assistance cases are cases in which the competent authorities of a Member State or third country carry out a criminal investigation with assistance from OLAF.

Guidelines on Investigation Procedures for OLAF Staff  pdf - 126 KB [126 KB]

OLAF management plan 2014 pdf - 251 KB [251 KB]

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Last update: 19/09/2014