OLAF /05/12 Brussels, the 31 August 2005

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 that kind.

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 result.

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.

An electronic version of the OLAF Manual is available free on the website "EU Bookshop" (http://bookshop.europa.eu). Orders for the printed version can also be placed there.
Moreover, the new OLAF-publication "Deterring fraud by informing the public" is also available on that website from today.

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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