OLAF /07/07 Brussels, 4 June 2007

In reaction to several press articles published over the weekend, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) issues the following statement concerning an investigation into the execution of a contract for cleaning services. OLAF is limited in what it may disclose by the need to respect the confidentiality of ongoing investigations. Nevertheless, OLAF sees itself obliged to clarify some incorrect information that may have appeared in the articles published.

The OLAF investigation concerned the execution of a contract for cleaning services for buildings of the European Commission. It is suspected that this contract may have been executed in an irregular manner. The investigation mainly focussed on companies and/or individuals external to the European institutions.

The OLAF investigation was opened in June 2005 on the basis of initial information received from the European Commission and from external sources. The case was referred to the Belgian federal prosecutor on 1 March 2007. It is now with the Brussels public prosecutor's office (Parquet de Bruxelles).

The financial impact of the suspected irregularities cannot be assessed at this stage. The total volume of the contract in question is € 44 million covering a period between 2003 and 2007. As the cleaning services have in fact been rendered, any potential damage could only amount to a fraction of this. Any other figure that may have appeared in the press is incorrect.

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) was created in 1999 as an independent body for administrative investigations into cases of fraud and corruption to the detriment of the EU financial interests. Its creation and its work are part of the policy of "zero tolerance" towards irregularities within the European institutions. Investigations of the present kind are a normal part of OLAF's mission.

Given the necessary respect for the confidentiality of ongoing judicial investigations, together with the legitimate rights of the persons concerned, and the presumption of innocence, OLAF may not provide any further details at this point in time. Any request should be addressed to the Brussels Prosecution Service (Parquet de Bruxelles), spokesman Mr Jos Colpin, First Substitute for the Royal Prosecutor - Spokesman for the Brussels Prosecution Service, tel. +32(0)25087440, fax: +32(0)25190822

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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