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OLAF curbs cross-border fraud and closes record number of investigations in 2015

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) reported an excellent investigative performance, concluding the highest number of investigations in the last years, curbing cross-border fraud and bringing tangible results in protecting EU taxpayers' money.

"Our investigations in 2015 have once again proved that illegal activities do not stop at national borders," OLAF Director-General Giovanni Kessler said. "Through our strong investigative performance and high number of concluded investigations, I believe we have successfully served European citizens and helped ensure EU money goes where it is most needed instead of being pocketed by fraudsters," he added. "However, what we need now is an appropriate framework that allows countries to effectively work together in combatting fraud, so we must progress in establishing a European Public Prosecutor's Office."

OLAF 2015 investigative performance, in numbers:

  • In 2015, OLAF concluded 304 investigations, a record number for the Office, and especially concentrated on reducing the number of long-lasting investigations in its portfolio.
  • The Office opened 219 new investigations in 2015, a particularly high number achieved against the backdrop of a decrease in investigative staff.
  • OLAF assessed more items of information of potential investigative interest in less time, completing 90% of its 1442 selections within two months.
  • In the course of the year, OLAF issued 364 recommendations to the relevant Member State and EU State authorities. These will enable the recovery of EU funds inappropriately spent and facilitate bringing fraudsters to justice.
  • With Structural Funds once more providing the bulk of its investigative work, OLAFrecommended to national and EU authorities a total EUR 888.1 million for financial recovery to the EU budget.

OLAF reaches “cruising altitude” after its reorganisation

This year's results also prove that four years after its reorganisation in 2012, the Office is considerably more efficient in all areas of its work. Not only has OLAF both opened and closed more investigations than before its reorganisation: 83% more investigations opened post-reorganisation, and 93% more investigations concluded, it has done so faster than ever. OLAF has also almost halved the percentage of long-lasting investigations compared to the period before 2012.

OLAF concentrates on the fight against cigarette smuggling

OLAF has progressed in its efforts to fight the illicit trade in tobacco products. Through its investigation and coordination cases and in the course of the Joint Customs Operations that the Office organised with EU Member states and third countries, OLAF helped national authorities seize 619 million cigarette sticks in 2015.

OLAF advances European anti-fraud policies

Throughout 2015, OLAF made important contributions to the European Commission's legislative initiatives, taking a particularly active role in the on-going negotiations on the European Commission proposal for the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO). OLAF believes the EPPO would streamline the process of identifying fraudsters and bringing them to justice more swiftly. It would significantly boost the protection of the EU budget and reduce the current fragmentation of national law enforcement efforts in this field.

In 2015, OLAF also signed important Administrative Cooperation Arrangements with international organisations, including with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Food Programme. These arrangements will help OLAF to further its fight against cross-border fraud, particularly in the area of EU external aid.

To read the full report, please click here

OLAF information