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Fighting Fraud and Corruption: How the European Union Protects Its Public Funds (From UNAFEI Resource Material Series No. 76, P 3-16, 2008, Grace Lord, ed. See NCJ-229030)

NCJ Number
Johan Vlogaert
Date Published
December 2008
14 pages
This overview of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) addresses its structure, legal basis, competencies and operational network, investigative activities, and its activities and challenges in the field of development and humanitarian aid.
OLAF was created to help European institutions fight fraud and financial irregularities, which also occur with funds paid out as development assistance. OLAF's core activity is performing administrative investigations. It may also perform its coordination and assistance tasks by conducting criminal assistance cases, coordinating cases, and monitoring cases. This involves not only the European Union's member states but also international investigation services, such as the Integrity Department of the World Bank. The director general of OLAF exercises the functions of appointing authority under the Staff Regulations for officials of the European communities and of the authority authorized to conclude contracts of employment under the conditions of employment of other servants. Once an external investigation is opened, a team of investigators is assigned to the case. The following investigative steps can be undertaken: broad intelligence analysis, verifications with the donor agencies, satellite imaging, cooperation with investigative bodies in member states and non-European Union countries, cooperation with auditors and additional audits, on-the-spot checks, and other direct investigative activities. Not being bound by sometimes cumbersome arrangements for cooperation with law-enforcement bodies and judicial authorities, OLAF manages to build its own networks in the law-enforcement community in general. One of the biggest problems that makes organized fraud possible is the shortcoming in and sometimes total absence of coordination of grant award procedures, auditing, monitoring, evaluation and early warning systems among the various global and international donor organizations. OLAF is working to improve the exchange of information, coordination, and the adoption of joint approaches in addressing all the problems. 3 figures