OLAF-DIRECTOR GENERAL VISITS BULGARIA

OLAF /08/08
Brussels, 21 August 2008

In the framework of a technical mission, a delegation of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), headed by Director General Franz-Hermann Brüner, is visiting Bulgaria today and tomorrow. The OLAF delegation will meet with senior representatives of the Bulgarian government and of the judiciary.

Ahead of the visit to Sofia, Franz-Hermann Brüner, Director General of OLAF, said: “We are going to discuss with the Bulgarian authorities measures to be taken in order to increase the effectiveness of the fight against fraud and corruption to the detriment of the EU’s financial interests in Bulgaria.” He further explained: “Our message to the Bulgarian authorities is clear: Certain changes have been made. What we are expecting now are results“. Mr Brüner added: “We need to see a clear and tangible outcome of the fight against fraud and corruption in Bulgaria: in judicial procedures as well as concerning the recovery of funds”. He concluded: “In particular, we will emphasise the need for close and trusting co-operation between the Bulgarian authorities and OLAF.”

The visit is taking place in the framework of the usual operational activities of OLAF in the fight against fraud and corruption to the detriment of the EU’s financial interests. These activities include missions to the Member States in the course of specific investigations as well as meetings of OLAF representatives with the Member States’ authorities.

The OLAF delegation is visiting Sofia at the invitation of the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the management of EU funds and will meet with senior representatives of the Bulgarian government and of the judiciary.

Background

On 23 July 2008 the European Commission adopted Reports on the Management of EU Funds in Bulgaria and on the Progress in Bulgaria under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. These Reports found that Bulgaria is experiencing serious implementation difficulties in several EU funded programmes and still has to demonstrate that sound financial management structures are in place and operate effectively. Administrative capacity is still weak and there have been serious allegations of irregularities as well as suspicions of fraud and conflicts of interest in the award of contracts. Investigations by OLAF into the management of EU funds by the Bulgarian authorities have led to the temporary suspension of pre-accession funds and the freezing of payments under various other financial instruments. The Reports also concluded that despite efforts to establish necessary institutions and introduce required procedures and processes, there are few results to demonstrate that the system is actually functioning correctly.
 

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Jörg Wojahn
Deputy Spokesman of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)
Tel : +32 (0)2 296.54.25
Fax : +32 (0)2 299.81.01

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