OLAF investigations resulted in €691 million recovered to EU budget and 511 years' of prison sentences
The Annual Report of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), published today, summarises OLAF's achievements in 2011. OLAF handled 463 cases in 2011. The results of OLAF's investigations led to the recovery of €691 million and a cumulative 511 years of prison sentences being issued by Member State courts.
"Thanks to our investigations, a considerable amount of money was recovered to EU taxpayers and a large number of criminals were brought to justice in national courts for crimes against the EU budget. In this financial climate, the fight against fraud and corruption is of particular importance and should be a priority in all Member States. OLAF wants to step up this fight. Therefore, we will increase our focus on the efficiency and results of our investigations and strengthen our cooperation with our partners both within and outside the EU," said OLAF's Director-General, Giovanni Kessler.
Summary of operational activities in 2011
€691.4 million was recovered as a result of OLAF's cases. This was an exceptional amount due to particular circumstances during the year.
The highest recoveries were recorded in the structural funds sector (€524.7 million), followed by customs (€113.7 million) and agriculture (€34 million).
As a result of legal action in Member States, following OLAF's recommendations, national courts sentenced fraudsters to a cumulative 511 years' imprisonment in 2011 and imposed financial penalties amounting to nearly €155 million.
OLAF opened 178 new cases, 80% of which were investigations. 208 investigative and coordination cases were closed during the year.
OLAF handled 463 investigation and coordination cases in 2011. 122 of these cases related to EU staff, 89 to the agricultural sector, 67 to external aid, and 64 to structural funds.
The clearance rate, i.e. the ratio of cases opened and closed, improved and fell below one. The average duration of cases increased slightly to 29.1 months. Both of these phenomena can be explained by the relatively large number of cases closed during the year.
The report includes a sample of cases studies to present an overview of OLAF's investigations into suspected crimes against different sectors of the EU budget. These include the smuggling of biodiesel, a fraudulent structural funds tender, and corruption by an EU delegation official.
The mission of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is threefold: it protects the financial interests of the European Union (EU) by investigating fraud, corruption and any other illegal activities; it detects and investigates serious matters relating to the discharge of professional duties by members and staff of the EU institutions and bodies that could result in disciplinary or criminal proceedings; and it supports the European Commission in the development and implementation of fraud prevention and detection policies.