Press Release OLAF/09/2003, 4 April 2003

The European Anti-fraud Office has hosted the 4th Conference of International Investigators, bringing together the major investigative bodies attached to international and bilateral organisations involved in providing aid and support.

The purpose of this two-day meeting working conference has been to improve co-operation among these agencies, to establish good practices in investigations and give investigators an opportunity to meet and discuss matters of mutual interest. Some 80 representatives of approximately over 30 organisations, including the World Bank and the United Nations among others participated in the conference.

This is the first time that OLAF has been invited to host the Conference. Previous conferences have been hosted either by the United Nations or the World Bank. The main theme of the 4th Conference has been co-operation in the fight against fraud and corruption.

During the conference the delegates discussed proposed 'Uniform Guidelines for Investigations' which are expected to be approved and adopted by the organisations that attended the conference. By adopting these Guidelines it is hoped that it will help all bodies involved in this type of inquiry to better carry out their investigations in an open, transparent and accountable manner and thereby ensure the protection of fundamental rights and the interests of their organisations. The standards will also act as an international benchmark for the investigative agencies adopting them.

A joint United Nations/OLAF presentation was made highlighting the close co-operation between the two organisations in the Kosovo case, which has resulted in the recovery of 3.8 million euro to-date. "This reflects the positive and constructive approach that already exists between the investigative bodies of international organisations, an approach that has been evident also throughout the Conference but that must be developed further", said Mr Franz-Hermann Brüner, Director-General of OLAF. He added "it is only through close and active co-operation that cases of this type can be solved".

The World Bank, the United Nations and OLAF made a number of other presentations based on the operational activities and structures of these organisations.

The following conclusions were reached:

  • In light of the increase in multi-agency funding of many projects there was a need to ensure the necessary operational structures and systems were in place to enhance and improve on the existing co-operation between the investigative agencies involved in this area thereby strengthening the fight against
  • Further and more detailed consideration would be given to identifying how best larger organisations could assist smaller ones in combating fraud and corruption.
  • Preparations were made for preparing a Library of Best Practices for international investigations

Those attending the conference reaffirmed their commitment to fighting fraud and corruption affecting the financial interests of their organisations and to continue to work together to fight fraud and increase operational effectiveness. In this respect, Commissioner Michaele Schreyer emphasised "The EU has always been willing to take the necessary steps to fight fraud and corruption. As fraud takes on an international dimension and there is an increase in the number of projects which are co-financed, co-operation becomes more essential between the agencies involved. Within the EU there are instruments which provide for the formation of joint investigations. Maybe consideration could be given to establishing a legal framework for similar co-operation at an international level."

The Conference was addressed by Mrs. Michaele Schreyer European Commissioner for Budget and Anti-fraud, Mr Jean-Luc Dehaene, Vice-President of the Convention for the Future of Europe, Mr Serge Brammertz, Belgian Federal Prosecutor, Mr Maarten De Jong, Director, Department of Institutional Integrity, World Bank and by Mr Dileep Nair, Under-Secretary-General for UN Office of Internal Oversight Services.

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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