OLAF Steps Up Cooperation with U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

OLAF /10/01 Brussels, 18 January 2010

OLAF, the European Commission’s Anti-Fraud Office, and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) today signed a Cooperation Arrangement aimed at enhancing cooperation between the two organisations and stepping up the fight against international organized crime.

"We already enjoy an excellent working relationship with the law enforcement authorities in the United States,” said Ian Walton, Director, Investigations & Operations II, who signed the Cooperation Arrangement on behalf of OLAF. “Today we have formalised our relationship with the ATF and we are looking forward to even closer cooperation in the future. OLAF and the ATF have a number of areas of common interest and we will be tackling them together.”

The Cooperation Arrangement sets out the basis for the working relationship between OLAF and the ATF in combating the illicit trade in tobacco products.

“This arrangement demonstrates our shared commitment to fighting international organized crime. We are very happy to have OLAF as a partner,” said James E. McDermond, ATF Assistant Director during a signing ceremony in Brussels.

According to the latest available statistics, 5.3 billion illegal cigarettes were seized by law enforcement agencies across the EU in 2008 and several billion Euro in tax and customs revenue is lost by the EU and Member States each year to smugglers. OLAF has a special Task Group specifically dedicated to combating contraband and counterfeit cigarettes in the EU.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is a law enforcement agency in the United States’ Department of Justice. Based in Washington, the ATF has 25 field offices in the United States and over 2,500 special agents. One aspect of their work is to investigate the illegal diversion of tobacco products. In the United States, federal and state governments estimate that tobacco diversion costs over $5 billion in revenue from unpaid excise taxes annually.

Agnes HORVATH
Head of Unit Spokesman, Communication, Public Relations (act.)
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European Commission
European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)

Office : J30 01/20
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E-mail: agnes.horvath@ec.europa.eu

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