ENCOURAGING RESULTS FROM OLAF'S INVESTIGATION ACTIVITIES

OLAF/04/18 Brussels/Dublin, 8 October 2004

The number of investigations by the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF) that culminate in prosecutions is rising steadily. Currently more than half of the cases opened by OLAF prompt financial, administrative, disciplinary or judicial follow-up measures. This emerges from the Office's latest statistics, released at the 7th Eurojustice Conference that is ending in Dublin today.

"The number of investigations yielding positive results, is a recognised indicator for evaluating the effectiveness of an investigation service", says Franz-Hermann Brüner, Director-General of OLAF. "The end of an OLAF investigation is usually the beginning of a national or Community administrative, disciplinary or judicial proceeding", he adds, speaking on the occasion of the Eurojustice Conference in Dublin, where heads of prosecution services and prosecuting officers from across Europe get together to consider questions of policy, management and ethics in the criminal law field.

Almost 80 % of the cases inherited from OLAF's predecessor, UCLAF, were closed without follow-up action. Since OLAF was set up on 1 June 1999, it has gradually reversed the trend, as the figures show:

  • During the period 2001-2002, the rate of cases closed without follow-up action fell to 72%,
  • in 2002-2003, the number went down to 55 %,
  • in 2003-2004, it has reached 49 %.

The action taken to follow up a case closed by OLAF investigators will vary, being administrative, financial, disciplinary or judicial, as the case requires. By 30 June 2004, OLAF had referred more than 300 cases to the national judicial authorities; more than 200 of them are in motion there.

There are a number of reasons for the rising number of cases closed with follow-up action, one of which is more rigorous evaluation of the initial information. The time spent on that evaluation is also on the decline: If during the period 2000-2001 the evaluation of the information received by the Office took an average of 18 months, this timeframe has come down to 5 months in 2003-2004.

There has also been a rise in the number of initial reports, up by 10%. This can be interpreted as evidence of the fact that the Office is now being taken much more seriously, particularly by its operational partners at national level and by the other Community Institutions.

Alessandro Butticé
Head of Communication, PR and Spokesman Unit
Tel : +32 (0)2 296.54.25
Fax : +32 (0)2 299.81.01

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