OLAF/04/23 Brussels, the 24 November 2004

"Deterring Fraud by Informing the Public" is the title of a training seminar for communication experts and media representatives from all over Europe. The three-day event, which started in Brussels today, is organised by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) in co-operation with its European Anti-Fraud Communicators' Network (OAFCN) which comprises Spokespersons and Heads of Communications of OLAF's partner services in the EU-Member States and Candidate Countries.

"Transparency is one of the cornerstones on the fight and prevention of corruption and fiscal mismanagement, and Communication is the active side of transparency. Transparency in itself is often enough to prevent fraud", stated Siim Kallas, Vice President of the European Commission, responsible for Administration, Audit and Anti-Fraud, in his introductory remarks. "But in ongoing investigations we have a duty to protect those presumed innocent until proven guilty and maintain a careful balance between the public and private interest", he added.

Szabolcs Fazakas, Chairman of the Committee on Budgetary Control of the European Parliament said: "Initially, my idea was that fraud investigators should not appear in the press at all. Indeed, their work relies on confidentiality". He added: "Then, having read through the written contributions and expert opinions, I reconsidered my position. In a world influenced by the media and by information available at random, it is increasingly important that organizations protecting our financial interests are present in the media and that the media portrays them in a positive light. The citizens must learn not only about the villains putting the rule of law at risk, but also about those who protect them." OLAF-Director General Franz-Hermann Brüner emphasized: "Open communication channels are essential for the Member States' and candidate countries' institutions to work together with OLAF so that the uncovering of fraudulent activities is not interpreted as an effort to exercise controls in the EU but rather as part of concrete actions in the detection and fight against fraud."

The participants of this training seminarAll available translations., which is the fourthAll available translations. of its kind, are discussing strategies and tools in the prevention of fraud and corruption by means of information and communication. The seminar is intended to serve as a platform for exchanging experiences and best practices on how to explain these issues through the media or directly to the general public. This event has been organised in the framework of OLAF's activities aimed at the implementation of its communication and information strategyAll available translations., which is based on two concepts:

  • information and communication as a service to the citizen and
  • information and communication as a fraud prevention tool.

The OLAF communication strategy reflects the obligation to inform the public on how public funds are being spent and how they are being protected. The OLAF communication strategy is based on the absolute respect for the rule of law and on the respect for individual rights, that is, to respect the presumption of innocence of those persons under investigation and to protect the confidentiality of investigations.

Part of OLAF's communication strategy involves close cooperation with the Spokespersons and Heads of Communication of OLAF's partner services in all EU-Member States and Candidate Countries which form the Anti-Fraud Communicators' Network (OAFCN). At the seminar Mr. Kallas, Mr. Fazakas and Mr. Brüner stressed the importance of the OLAF Anti-Fraud Communicators' Network as an important element which can contribute to strengthening OLAF's competence as a service platform. They thanked the Network's members for their co-operation and encouraged them to continue their common work.

A series of articles on the subjects being discussed during the Brussels training seminar are available online as a part of the OLAF Round Table on Anti-Fraud CommunicationAll available translations..

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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