“EUROSTAT AFFAIR”: INVESTIGATION INTO LEAKS

OLAF /06/05 Brussels, the 9 March 2006

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has opened an investigation concerning the use of internal documents of the previous OLAF Supervisory Committee or its secretariat by individuals subject to OLAF investigations. These documents were brought forward in a complaint lodged before the European Court of First Instance against the European Commission and OLAF following the so-called “Eurostat affair”. Reacting to an intense debate in the European Parliament about a series of leaks affecting OLAF and after several media inquiries on this topic, the Office considers it necessary to inform about its decision to open the investigation. This decision was made after consultation with the new OLAF Supervisory Committee.

“OLAF has to protect all whistleblowers, witnesses and other people who entrust their information about corruption or fraud to the Office”, OLAF Director-General Franz-Hermann Brüner said. “If they fear that their information will get into the wrong hands, be it through organised leaks or otherwise, they will not come forward with it anymore. The same goes for the authorities of the Member States on whose collaboration and information OLAF is equally reliant”, he emphasized. “In such an environment the fight against corruption and fraud would be severely hampered. Therefore OLAF has the obligation to take all necessary measures to guarantee the confidentiality of its operations, and it is in this framework that we have decided to open the present investigation”, Mr Brüner added.

The main facts which have triggered the opening of the investigation arose in connection with the so-called “Eurostat affair”: In an action brought before the European Court of First Instance (Case T-48/05 pdf) last year, the applicants submitted that OLAF erred in forwarding a file relating to the accusations in the context of the “Eurostat affair” to the French and Luxembourg judicial authorities. Five internal documents which had been kept by the former OLAF Supervisory CommitteeAll available translations. or its secretariat were annexed to this complaint.

OLAF decided to make public the opening of its investigation into suspicions of leaks as the matter has already been subject to a Parliamentary Question (P-4024/05), to several media reports and to an intense public debate at the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control during its meeting on 21 February 2006. At that meeting, the new OLAF Supervisory CommitteeAll available translations. made the following statementAll available translations.: “A very real concern over the past few years has been the leaking of confidential documents which had been kept by the Supervisory Committee and its secretariat to unauthorised persons, including journalists and parties to litigation against the Commission. […] We, the new Supervisory Committee, are satisfied that everything is being done that should be done to investigate the leaks in the past.”

Alessandro Butticé
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