Press Release OLAF/09/2002, 17 October 2002
The Director-General of OLAF, Mr Franz-Hermann Brüner, has presented the Activity Report of the Office for the period 1 June 2001 to 30 June 2002. This Report summarises what has been achieved by the Office in operational terms in the period ending June 2002. During the period covered by the report a steady increase in investigative activity was observed. Some 552 new cases were opened during the reference period and the OLAF caseload increased approximately 30% compared to the two first years of activity of the Office.
"The core activity of the Office is the conduct and co-ordination of anti-fraud operations to protect the EC Budget and the investigation of fraud and illegal activities within the European Institutions" said Mr Brüner, Director General of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), presenting his third annual Activity Report to the European Institutions.
"The Commission has scrupulously respected my operational independence," he added. "It has not been necessary to call upon the OLAF Supervisory Committee to exercise its primary function of safeguarding that independence. OLAF has, however, continued to benefit from the Supervisory Committee's experience, advice and support. There has been a significant increase in the number of cases handled by OLAF during this period. This period has been marked by important progress in the updating of the work-methods and procedures of the Office and our co-operation with the Member States. OLAF has achieved administrative ".
What the Office now needs is a period of stability: "This may be difficult to achieve at a time in which the entire structure of EU Institutions, and their complex interrelationships, is again under review. We must, however, have time to absorb the progress which has been made without the disruption to anti-fraud operations which results from continuing ".
In the last year, OLAF gave high priority to two types of cases. First, OLAF operated a policy of "zero tolerance" towards corruption or fraud within the European Institutions. This meant that all allegations made in this area were investigated regardless
Second, the Office gave particular attention to cases involving the applicant countries. This covers both cases involving the misuse of EC funds directed towards the enlargement process and cases where activities affecting the interests of the EU are in some way linked to the candidate countries.
The Report describes also OLAF's work in the fields of Direct Expenditure and External Aid, Structural Actions, Customs and External trade, Agriculture as well as on Cigarettes, VAT and Excise Duties.
Some 552 new cases were opened during the reference period increasing the total number of cases in OLAF's Case Management System (CMS) to 2900. Of the 552 cases opened, 174 cases referred to Direct Expenditure (32%), 112 cases (20%) concerned Customs & Trade, 81 cases (15%) involved Structural Funds, 77 cases (14%) were Agricultural, 63 cases (11%) were internal cases and 45 cases (or 8% of the caseload) involved Cigarettes and Excise.
There were 154 internal cases relating to the EU Institutions on OLAF's books at the end of the reporting period (31 May 2002). 34 of these had been inherited from UCLAF. OLAF had opened 57 prior to the reporting period while 63 new cases (or 41% of all internal cases) were opened during the reference period. More than 75% of the internal cases concern the European Commission.
OLAF supports its operational independence with its own communication strategy. An internet pressroom has been established (http://europa.eu.int/comm/anti_fraud/press_room/index_en.htmlAll available translations.) within the OLAF website (europa.eu/olaf).
In 2001, the OLAF Anti-Fraud Communicators' Network (OAFCN) was established bringing together many spokesmen, persons responsible for public relations and information officers in national law enforcement agencies with which OLAF co-operates. The objective is to prevent fraud through the free flow of information and to improve the amount of information getting through to the European citizen on the protection of the Community's financial interests and to provide a service to the media.
OLAF investigations which identify fraud or other serious malpractice normally lead to further judicial and/or administrative procedures in the Member States, and/or to disciplinary proceedings within the Institutions. Such further measures are outside OLAF's control, and often inevitably may take a considerable time (several years) to complete in terms of criminal convictions and the recovery of the money involved. It follows that the cases covered in the report will be the subject of these further procedures by other authorities for some time to come.
"The future success or failure of the Office in the fight against fraud is not simply a question of the number of investigations undertaken, concluded or criminal activities deterred or disrupted". Mr Brüner concluded. "The success of the Office depends on its effectiveness in its role in fostering co-operation between national agencies; by distilling and applying the lessons learned through experience; and by the construction of trans-European anti-fraud structures, legislative, administrative and judicial, which will become increasingly effective as time goes on. This is particularly important as enlargement approaches".
The Annual Report can be downloadedAll available translations.
(in pdf format), from our web-site europa.eu.int/olaf.
Additionally, digital photographs of OLAF action
can be downloaded from our website :
http://europa.eu.int/comm/mediatheque/photo/select/cigarette_en.htmlAll available translations.
A new video-clip concerning OLAF is also available from the Mediatheque of the European Commission from 1700 today (17 October 2002) fax 02.2301280 and will be broadcast on EBS.
Mr Alessandro Butticé
Spokesman of the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF)
Tel : +32 (0)2 296.5425
Fax : +32 (0)2 299.8101