OLAF and EU prosecutors meet in Bulgaria to improve cooperation in the fight against EU fraud

OLAF /11/15 Brussels, 17 November 2011

Cooperation between national authorities in the fight against fraud is the headline of the ninth OLAF conference for fraud prosecutors. This conference is organised by OLAF in close cooperation with the Bulgarian prosecution service from 16 to 18 November 2011 in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The Minister of Justice, Ms. Margarita Popova, was the first to address the participants followed by the Prosecutor General Mr. Boris Velchev and OLAF’s Director General Mr. Giovanni Kessler.

In his speech, the Prosecutor General emphasized that OLAF’s decision to carry out its annual conference in Bulgaria is a recognition of efforts undertaken and results achieved in combating crimes involving fraud.

“A close relationship and a smooth flow of information between prosecutors and the administration are essential for the protection of the EU budget. This can only be achieved through good working relations and mutual respect for each other's individual status. Good cooperation is equally important for OLAF. "As an administrative body, OLAF investigates fraud but it relies on national authorities to recover misused money and bring the perpetrators to justice,” said Giovanni Kessler, OLAF’s Director-General.

“Communication and mutual cooperation with OLAF appeared to be of great significance in ensuring successful investigations. OLAF is an important partner in our work concerning the establishment of, investigating and proving fraud affecting the EU budget, especially in cases related to crimes committed on the territory of several Member States. Fraud affecting the EU budget should also be highlighted to AFCOS – the service for coordination which was created during the period of negotiations for the accession of Bulgaria to EU and continued following the country's membership,” said Mr. Velchev, the Prosecutor General of Bulgaria.

This year's conference highlights the importance of cooperation and the exchange of information between judicial and administrative authorities. For instance, a judicial authority investigating suspicions of fraud should receive information from administrative authorities, not only in relation to potential criminal offences, but also on the existing practical and legal framework regarding the relevant EU funding. At a later stage, the results of the criminal inquiries should be transferred to the administrative authorities to help them ensure recovery and take preventive action. Finally, the results of parallel administrative proceedings, in case they have an impact on criminal proceedings, should also be shared with the judicial authorities.

The conference in Sofia brings together over 120 participants, predominantly prosecutors, from EU Member States and Candidate Countries Representatives of Eurojust, but also other partners attended the event. Practitioners from judicial or administrative authorities in Bulgaria, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania are invited to speak about their work to counter irregularities and fraud affecting the EU budget and the need to cooperate with partners in the public service.

Pavel BOĊ˜KOVEC
Head of Unit Spokesman,
Communication, Public Relations
European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)
Rue Joseph II, 30 B-1049 Brussels (Belgium)
Phone: +32 2 296 72 00
Fax: +32 2 2998101
E-mail: olaf-media@ec.europa.eu

Stelyana KOZHUHAROVA
Prosecutor and Spokesperson of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Bulgaria 
Phone: + 359 2 92 19 774
E-mail: skozhuharova@prb.bg

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