INVESTIGATION INTO TENDERS RELATING TO COMMISSION DELEGATIONS OUTSIDE THE EU

OLAF /07/05 Brussels, 28 March 2007

The Brussels Prosecution Service yesterday announced a major operation in close cooperation with the French, Italian and Luxembourg authorities and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). The operation involved police and OLAF investigators. The operation had its origins in the transmission of information to the Belgian authorities by OLAF, and there followed months of detailed investigations in close cooperation with the Belgian and Italian (Potenza Prosecutor Office) judicial and police authorities (Belgian Federal Police and Italian Carabinieri).

The Brussels Prosecution Service [Mr Jos Colpin, First Substitute for the Royal Prosecutor - Spokesman for the Brussels Prosecution Service, tel. +32(0)25087440, fax: +32(0)25190822] announced yesterday that, following a complaint received by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), an investigation overseen by Ms Berta Bernardo-Mendez, Examining Magistrate in Brussels, and conducted by the Central Corruption Office (OCRC) of the Belgian Federal Police, had brought to light suspicions of corruption, the manipulation of tender procedures and fraud in the context of the leasing and procurement of EC delegation buildings and their security installations in countries outside the EU.

The main persons under suspicion at this stage are one European Commission official, one assistant of a Member of the European Parliament and the manager of a private company.

According to the press release published by the Belgian judicial authorities, witnesses were questioned. Searches were mainly conducted on the premises of the European Commission, the European Parliament (in the office of the assistant of the MEP) and of several private residences and companies. A large volume of documents and computer files was seized by the Belgian and Italian judicial authorities.
The Brussels Prosecution Service has today announced in a press briefing that 3 arrests have been made in Belgium under warrants issued by the Examining Magistrate. The main offences alleged by the Belgian judicial authorities are, at the current stage of proceedings, corruption of an international civil servant, violation of professional secrecy and criminal conspiracy.

It is difficult at this stage to assess the possible financial impact on the EU budget as the services due under the various contracts have been delivered, even though it is suspected that contracts may have been awarded in an irregular manner.

The OLAF internal investigation started in 2004, when a complaint was received from an unsuccessful bidder in a tender procedure.
OLAF confirms that it has received excellent cooperation from both the European institutions and the national authorities involved.

Given the necessary respect for the confidentiality of ongoing investigations, together with the legitimate rights of the persons concerned, and the presumption of innocence, OLAF shall not comment any further at this point in time.

Alessandro Butticé
Head of Spokesman, Communication and PRUnit
Tel : +32 (0)2 296.54.25
Fax : +32 (0)2 299.81.01
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