The internal rules of the European Anti-Fraud
Office (OLAF) which govern its investigations
and operations have now been published.
The OLAF Manual, a collection of procedural
rules, standards and forms for the Office's
work, is available for download on the internet.
The 360 page code of conduct sets out the
course to be followed for an investigation,
including for example, the maintenance of
professional secrecy, the handling of information
received from whistleblowers, the protection
of the rights of witnesses as well as those
of the individuals affected by an inquiry.
The OLAF Manual is the
set of rules the Office has detailed for
its work. The main aim is to guarantee OLAF's
effectiveness and to ensure that the results
of any investigations can be used without
legal hindrance by the competent authorities
- be it by disciplinary bodies at
EU level or by national judiciaries. However,
the Manual is not a legally binding document:
Only the Community legislator is entitled
to adopt a procedural code of conduct of
The Manual includes the existing internal
rules governing the exercise of its powers.
It lays down precise rules on how investigations
are to be conducted. The Manual specifies
in full the basic rights and freedoms of
persons under investigation and emphasises
that one of the first precepts is that those
rights must be respected. Legal aspects
of investigations are emphasised in the
Manual, since failure to comply with such
legal obligations would undermine any subsequent
The first OLAF Manual dates
from 2001. The latest version, which is
now being published, was finalised on 25
February 2005. During the Public HearingAll available translations. on the OLAF-Regulation in the
European Parliament on 12/13 July, it was
stated that the only way to achieve greater
clarity and increased legal certainty would
be with a legally binding procedural regulation.
This of course must be left to the Community
legislator, as the Court of Auditors also states in its latest
special report on OLAF.