Press Release OLAF/06/2001, 18 October 2001
The Director-General of OLAF, Mr Franz-Hermann Brüner, has presented the Activity Report of the Office for the period 1 June 2000 to 31 May 2001. This period has been marked by important progress in the updating of the work-methods and procedures of the Office, by its internal reorganisation and the clarification of its relations with the other Community Institutions and the Member States.
OLAF which was created in June 1999, has been granted an independent power of administrative investigation, in particular within the Community institutions and bodies, with whom it maintains excellent relationships of co-operation. The powers given to it by the legislator and the OLAF Supervisory Committee are the principal guarantees of this operational independence.
The Annual Report of the Office covers:
Investigations and other operational activities
Work in the area of investigations and other operational activities has been mainly concentrated on existing cases, on the introduction of greater transparency in the methods of operational data processing and on the putting in place of revised investigation procedures. At the end of the reference period the Office is equipped with a procedural handbook which takes into account the legal constraints applicable as well as the protection of the fundamental rights and provides investigators and management with an efficient tool to organise their work. Internal investigations have been the first to benefit from this new approach. 36 investigations have been opened during the reference period 2000-2001. Nine investigations have given rise to a report. Eight investigation reports have led to the transmission of the file to the national legal authorities.
The same standards have been applied to external investigations not yet closed and to new investigations opened by decision of the Director General. As of 31 May 2001 the Office was investigating 441 cases.
The Office in the inter-institutional context
During this period in question, the Office made good progress in the reorganisation of its resources, in particular with regard to its personnel. Despite a complex recruitment procedure and a redeployment of staff, some of whom were reassigned to other services of the Commission, the effective strength of the Office grew by 70%, without any break in the continuity of service. At this time the Office comprises 199 agents. An initial reorganisation in September 2000 was intended to tackle a sometimes too-rigid framework in the organisation of investigations and to put in place a flexible and transparent operational structure. Subsequently, the Office has created a directorate for intelligence matters and has recruited legal advisers; the arrival of experts in the area of criminal law will constitute an essential contribution to ensure the monitoring of investigations and to guarantee the good application of procedures.
The Office has also advanced in the clarification of its position in the institutional context, the conditions applicable to its administrative and budgetary autonomy are now clear. Considerable progress has been made regarding the conditions for the modalities of its operational independence and of its relations with the Community Institutions, particularly with respect to the obligations of reciprocal information and the rules of co-operation
All these efforts nonetheless have not yet borne fruit. The redeployment of personnel and the recruitment, in particular of the magistrates, require time. The budgetary procedure is subject to a rigorous timetable that must be respected in the setting up of this structure. The creation of the new directorate tasked with strategies and operational intelligence constitutes the final stage of a reorganisation which aims to better express the different missions of the Office (intelligence, investigations, follow-up). This organisation of tasks will eliminate the partitioning of work and will facilitate synergies so as to allow the Office to make the best use of its scarce resources. In this way, OLAF will be better able to ensure the efficiency of its operations.
Once the adaptation of the its structures and the renewal of its work methods has been finalised, the Office will be then in a position to define its priorities in an objective and transparent manner within the framework of an overall operational policy. One of its ambitions to is to establish an observatory of economic and financial criminality which will be able to add value at a Community level to the benefit of the institutions and of the national authorities, as well as having its own operational power of initiative. Equipped with an effective structure the Office will contribute to the putting in place of a policy of prevention of corruption and will contribute to the reinforcement of the legitimacy and credibility of the institutions.
Also available from our website is the recently published report of the OLAF Supervisory Committee
Mr Alessandro Butticé
Tel: + 32 (0)2 296 5425
Fax: + 32 (0)2 299 8101