OLAF AND EUROPOL STRENGTHEN COOPERATION IN COMBATING FINANCIAL CRIME

Press Release EUROPOL-OLAF/09/2004, 07 April 2004

Tomorrow, 8th April 2004 at 9 o'clock, OLAF - The European Anti-fraud Office - and Europol - the European Police Office - shall sign an administrative arrangement putting in place the modalities for their practical co-operation.

Mr Jürgen Storbeck, Europol's Director and Mr Franz-Hermann Brüner, Director General of OLAF shall tomorrow, in Brussels, sign an administrative arrangement regarding co-operation between Europol and OLAF in order to fight fraud, corruption or any other criminal offence or illegal activity in the framework of international organised crime affecting the European Community's financial interests.

In order to step up the fight against fraud, corruption and any other illegal activity affecting the financial interests of the European Community, the European Anti-Fraud Office established by Commission Decision 1999/352/EC, ECSC, Euratom exercises the powers of investigation conferred on the Commission by the Community rules and Regulations and agreements in force in those areas.

The Office provides the Member States with assistance from the Commission in organising close and regular cooperation between their competent authorities in order to coordinate their activities for the purpose of protecting the European Community's financial interests against fraud. The Office contributes to the design and development of methods of fighting fraud and any other illegal activity affecting the financial interests of the European Community.

The Treaty of the European Union mentions (art. 29 and 30) Europol as an important instrument of the Union's efforts to prevent and fight against organised crime in order to achieve the objective of providing its citizens with a high level of safety within an area of freedom, security and justice. Europol aims to improve the effectiveness and co operation between the competent authorities of the Member States in preventing and combating serious international organised crime. The mission of Europol is to make a significant contribution to the European Union's law enforcement action against organised crime, with an emphasis on targeting criminal organisations.

Based in The Hague, The Netherlands, Europol started limited operations on 3 January 1994 in the form of the Europol Drugs Unit (EDU) fighting against drugs. The Europol Convention was ratified by all Member States and came into force on 1 October 1998. Following a number of legal acts related to the Convention, Europol commenced its full activities on 1 July 1999.

As of 1 January 2002 the mandate of Europol was extended to deal with all serious forms of international crime as listed in the Annex to the Europol Convention, amongst which fraud and corruption. At this occasion, it was agreed that referring to fraud among the serious forms of crime referred to in the annex to the Europol Convention must take account of OLAF's powers as regards tax evasion and customs fraud and lead to the negotiation of an agreement between Europol and the Commission.

A cooperation agreement concluded between the Commission and Europol on 18.2.2003 makes provision for the direct conclusion of arrangements between Europol and OLAF in fields in which OLAF enjoys independence.

Based on the above mentioned provisions, the administrative arrangement foresees the practical modalities for co-operation between Europol and OLAF with focus on developing exchange of technical and strategic information as well as in the field of threat assessment and risk analysis within the areas of common interest excluding the exchange of personal data.

Dr. Evangelos Stergioulis
Head of Public Relations EUROPOL
Tél.: +31 (0)70 3025 176
Fax: +31 (0)70 3180 874
E-mail: StergioulisE@europol.europa.eu

Dr. Alessandro Butticé
Head of Communication, PR and Spokesman Unit
Tel : +32 (0)2 296.5425
Fax : +32 (0)2 299.8101

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