FIRST REPORT OF THE EUROPEAN ANTI-FRAUD OFFICE (OLAF) ON OPERATIONAL ACTIVITIES (1.6.1999-31.5.2000)

Press Release OLAF/4/2000 8/6/2000

After one year of the Office's activity, the Director General of OLAF, Mr Franz-Hermann BRUENER, presented the first report on OLAF's operational activities for the period 1 June 1999 to 31 May 2000. This report constitutes a quantified scoreboard of the Office's investigations allowing the Institutions and citizens of Europe to follow, in the greatest transparency, the operational activities of the European Anti-fraud Office. Unlike the Commission's annual reports, this document does not give an account of the Member States' reports on the fight against fraud and irregularities, and the statistical data presented correspond to activities between 1 June 1999, when the Office was set up, and 1 March 2000, the date when the first Director General of the Office took up his functions.

The creation of the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF), which began its activities on 1 June 1999, put into effect the determination of the Community Institutions to establish a unique organisation having as its objective, on the one hand, the protection of the financial and economic interests of the Communities, and, on the other, the fight against organised international crime as well as fraud and all other illegal activity prejudicial to the Community budget.

Since its creation the Office has been in a period of transition. It is evolving today towards a new organisation reflecting the additional resources allocated to it by the European Parliament and the Council for the 1999, 2000 and 2001 financial years. By the end of 2001 (when the Office will have 300 staff) Mr BRUENER intends to reorganise the existing structures of OLAF, initially on a provisional basis, and gradually adapt them to the availability of new resources. This reorganisation will not disrupt the continuity of the ongoing operational activities.

During the period of this report the fight against organised crime and financial crime has continued on the ground, and the operational priorities of the Office are going into the development of cooperation with the Member States and the strengthening of transparency in the European Institutions.

As the statistics in the report reveal, the coordination and assistance offered by OLAF to the investigation services of the Member States remain very important. In no fashion does OLAF intend to substitute itself for the Member States' investigation services. The value added by the Office to investigations lies in its ability to ensure more dynamic cooperation with the national authorities. In other words, OLAF wants to give its support to national investigation services, following a service and partnership approach. In this respect Mr BRUENER said, when presenting the report, that: "the Office's own powers for administrative investigations must be integrated, as an indispensable and complementary instrument, in a more global cooperative approach with all the national authorities, targeted on areas of Community competence".

As regards internal investigations in the Community Institutions, the Director General of OLAF, during his presentation of the report, emphasised his readiness to: "use, with discretion, the new investigative means contained in the legislation to neutralise external influences, namely the power of corruption, and thus guarantee the credibility of the community institutions, bodies, offices and agencies". Nevertheless, according to Mr BRUENER: "clear legislation, simple rules and transparency constitute the best guarantees against the risks of illegal activities. It is to these ends that the European Anti-fraud Office devotes itself as of now".

The report will be accessible on the Internet at:

http://ec.europa.eu/comm/anti_fraud/index.htm

Mr Alessandro Butticé
Spokesman of the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF)
Tel : +32 (0)2 296.5425
Fax: +32 (0)2 299.8101

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