Office européen de lutte antifraude

OLAF brings together colleagues from around the world on fighting corruption

OLAF brings together colleagues from around the world on fighting corruption

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11/12/2020

International Anti-Corruption Day is held each year on 9 December, and this year saw OLAF mark the day with its first virtual conference. More than 800 EU staff members from all over the world participated in the event, the aim of which was to create an anti-corruption community across the EU institutions to raise awareness and strengthen the fight against corruption. 

Although corruption sadly does exist in the EU, it is not so widespread here as in other parts of the world, and the focus of OLAF's first Anti-Corruption Conference was very much on helping colleagues working in delegations and other services across the globe to detect, report and prevent corruption related to the use of EU funds.  

The aim was to provide insight to colleagues on how OLAF detects and investigates corruption – using a real-life investigation into corruption involving EU agricultural guarantee funds – but also how to report suspected cases and what OLAF can do to help colleagues across the institutions to detect and prevent corruption more effectively where they are.  

Wide-ranging discussions in the second part

The second part of the conference featured a debate on the wider role of how the EU tackles corruption, with OLAF’s Acting Deputy Director-General Ernesto Bianchi moderating the discussion between OLAF Director-General Ville Itälä, Olivier Onidi, Deputy Director-General from DG HOME and MEP and member of the European Parliament's Budgetary Control (CONT) committee, Marian-Jean Marinescu. The discussion ranged far and wide around the topic of corruption and included the impact of the Rule of Law debate, the effect of the pandemic, the indirect impact of corruption on the wider economy, the social cost of corruption in democratic societies, and the importance of cross-border cooperation in fighting corruption. 

Raising awareness together

In her closing remarks Margarete Hoffman, OLAF Director Expenditure – Operations & Investigations, reiterated the need for a concerted effort between the EU institutions and its staff to fight corruption and the importance of raising awareness of how to detect and report corruption and fraud. One way of doing that will be a new collaborative space developed by OLAF to allow colleagues from around the world to share their experiences, questions and problems and learn more about how OLAF works to investigate and prevent corruption.