New investigative procedures make OLAF more efficient
The thirteenth European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) Report, published today, presents OLAF's activities in 2012.
During the year, OLAF has reinforced its investigative function and achieved significant results. OLAF investigations have become more efficient and the overall average duration of OLAF cases has decreased by around seven months, from 29.1 months in 2011 to 22.6 in 2012. In particular, the selection phase of new cases has been significantly reduced, from 6.8 to 1.4 months at the end of the year. These improvements allow OLAF to better tackle its workload, since the volume of incoming information OLAF receives has been steadily increasing. In 2012 OLAF has also processed more cases than ever before: 465 cases were closed compared to 208 the previous year. These cases resulted in recommendations to recover €284 million.
"In 2012, OLAF has kept up the high pace in fighting fraud and maintained the policy of zero tolerance towards corruption. The excellent results presented in the Report demonstrate OLAF's commitment to efficiency and high quality investigations. To achieve the full impact in our fight against fraud, the cooperation of our partners and Member States is essential. Swift and decisive actions are crucial in recovering misused EU money and in bringing perpetrators to justice" said Giovanni Kessler, Director-General of OLAF.
Highlights of the Report:
In 2012, the duration of investigation and coordination cases has sharply decreased, reaching an average of 22.6 months including the selection phase, a 22% decrease from 2011;
The average duration of the case selection phase was reduced from 6.8 to 1.4 months, a reduction of 80% compared to 2011. Through new and better selection procedures, OLAF can decide more swiftly whether or not to open a case;
As a result of its investigations, OLAF made financial recommendations for the recovery of €284 million. At the date of publication of this Report, the amount reported as recovered by the competent authorities in 2012 was €94.5 million;
OLAF has received and treated an increased volume of incoming information: 1264 items in 2012, 21% more than 2011. While such incoming information comes mainly from private sources, the number of items received from Member States has doubled, signalling increased trust in OLAF.
The achievements of 2012 were the result of a major internal reorganisation combined with the introduction of new investigative procedures and working practices. These changes strengthened the investigative and policy-making capacity of OLAF. They also contributed to a clearer distribution of responsibilities internally and reduced overheads, making OLAF more efficient overall.
Throughout the year, OLAF continued to contribute to the development and implementation of anti-fraud policies and legislation. In the framework of the Commission's Anti-Fraud Strategy, OLAF worked closely with other services of the European Commission to improve the detection and prevention of fraud. OLAF also further developed its cooperation with other EU Institutions.
On behalf of the European Commission, OLAF successfully represented the European Union throughout the negotiation process for the Protocol to Eliminate the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Together with the Directorate-General for Justice, OLAF prepared a legislative proposal concerning the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor's Office. The proposal is planned for adoption in 2013. It seeks to strengthen the investigation and prosecution of fraud against the EU budget.
In order to provide an overview of the breadth of OLAF activities in 2012 across different sectors, the Report includes several case studies.
The mission of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is threefold: it protects the financial interests of the European Union 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 EU institutions, in particular the European Commission, in the development and implementation of anti-fraud legislation and policies.