Press Release OLAF/07/2004, 23 March 2004

On 27 March 2002, the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF) issued a press release announcing that it had opened an internal investigation under Regulation 1073/1999 into a leak of confidential information included in a report prepared within OLAF, including the possibility, as reported to OLAF, that payment had been made to an EU official for this information.

Following the European Ombudsman's Recommendation on complaint 1840/2002/GG against the European Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF published, on 30 September 2003, a further press releaseAll available translations.. This press release announced that OLAF's enquiries had not yet been completed, but that to that date, OLAF had not obtained proof that such a payment had been made.

Certain articles that have appeared in the press in recent days regarding the search ordered by the investigating judge in the office of a Brussels based journalist call for some clarification.

All investigative steps fall exclusively into the competence of the "juge d'instruction". OLAF has fulfilled its statutory obligation in passing on its information on facts liable to result in criminal prosecutions. OLAF internal investigation concerns only aspects of a possible professional misconduct of staff members of a European Institution, agency, organ or body.

The Brussels Prosecution Service [Mr Jos Colpin, First Substitute for the Royal Prosecutor - Spokesman for the Brussels Prosecution Service, tel. +32(0)25087440, fax: +32(0)25190822] made an announcement on 22 March. For ease of reference, an informal translation of the statement issued by the Brussels Public Prosecutor is as follows.

" On 12 February 2004 the Brussels Public Prosecutor received a file from OLAF reporting facts relating to "corruption".

The file was sent by the Office of the Public Prosecutor to the "juge d'instruction" Daniel Fransen for investigation ("instruction") in relation to persons not yet identified . Mr Fransen issued search warrants to be carried out on 19 March 2004 at the office and at the private residence of a journalist.

Judge investigators carry out their duties in such a way as to assemble evidence for and against the person concerned ("à charge" et "à décharge"). Due account has of course been taken of the specific circumstance of the profession of the individual concerned. The journalist has been interviewed by police officers but has not been summoned by the judge investigator. He was free to leave at the end of the hearing. At the present stage of the investigation, no charge has been made. The investigation is continuing."

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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