OLAF/05/09 Brussels, the 12 July 2005
A sharper focus on the most relevant cases and a shorter average duration of investigations: These and other results emerge from the Supplementary Activity Report for the Year 2004 which the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF) releases this afternoon in Brussels, on the occasion of the Public Hearing on OLAF organised by the European Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control: "The Revision of the Regulation on the European Anti-Fraud Office". The Report presents statistical material on a calendar year basis.
The total financial impact for all cases dealt with by OLAF (old UCLAF cases included) up until the end of 2004 is estimated at € 5.8 billion.
As the figures in the Report show, the average duration of an OLAF investigation was reduced by 40 percent between 2002 and 2004: from 38 months to 23 months. OLAF has also drastically reduced the duration of the assessment phase of initial information which precede investigations from an average of 18.9 months in 2001 for a total of 763 assessments to an average of 3.5 months for a total of 503 assessments in 2004. Applying stricter assessment procedures to incoming information has helped the Office to focus on the most relevant cases.
The new Activity Report also shows that in 2004 around one quarter of all active investigations concerned European Union's direct expenditure or external aid. In this area the Office is fulfilling tasks where the EU Member States exercise no specific responsibility and OLAF is the principal player, or indeed even the only administrative authority engaged in the fight against fraud.
At the same time, more and more OLAF investigations are producing concrete results: the percentage of cases that were closed with a follow-up recommendation increased from 18% in 2000 to 47% in 2004. This means that OLAF finalised almost half of all investigations with a concrete recommendation for further judicial, disciplinary, financial, administrative or legislative measures to be taken - be it by the competent Member States' authorities or by the European Institutions.
Financial recovery reached a new peak in 2004 with a total of € 198 million being recovered. There were 675 cases in judicial follow up at the end of 2004.
For the first five years of its existence, the OLAF produced its annual Activity Report on the basis of a 12 month period, ending in June each year. The last such reportAll available translations. was published in November 2004 and covered the 12 months from 1st July 2003 to 30 June 2004. OLAF has accepted the request made by the European Parliament and endorsed by the Commission and the Court of Auditors to publish future Activity Reports on a calendar year basis. The present Supplementary Activity Report is intended to prepare the way for this change. It therefore presents the main statistical information in the 2003/2004 Annual Report on a calendar year basis, that is to say covering the whole of the year 2004. Wherever possible, data relating to earlier years has also been recalculated on a calendar year basis.
The OLAF Supplementary Activity Report 2004 is available from 4 p.m. onwards on the OLAF website.
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