Tuesday

26th Mar 2019

Olaf: four possible fraud cases with MEP assistants

  • Olaf is investigating four cases of possible fraud by MEP assistants (Photo: European Parliament)

The EU's anti-fraud office is investigating four cases of possible misconduct by assistants of members of the European Parliament (MEPs), a spokesperson told this website.

The office, known by its French acronym Olaf, received thirteen allegations in total this year. It has dismissed eight of them, either because there was no clear cause for an investigation or because Olaf lacked the jurisdiction.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

One allegation is still waiting to be processed, according to the Olaf press office.

Last June, Olaf's director announced that “tit-for-tat” accusations had been levelled after assistants to MEPs from the French far-right party National Front (FN) had carried out tasks unrelated to their parliamentary work.

The Olaf press office could not say how many assistants are being investigated in those four cases, or what the status was of the twenty suspected FN assistants.

But since Olaf said it received only thirteen allegations, while we know that 20 FN assistants were publicly accused, it may be inferred that a “case” must involve more than one assistant.

Last March, the European Parliament's president, centre-left German Martin Schulz, informed Olaf of possible financial irregularities, and the EP website published a press release.

After giving EUobserver the figures of how many cases were being investigated, the Olaf press office declined to answer any follow-up questions.

“Olaf will not issue any further comment at this stage in order to protect the confidentiality of possible investigations, personal data and procedural rights,” said a spokesperson.

Because Olaf's policy is not to disclose who it is investigating, FN is now the only party publicly named as having possible wrongdoers among its ranks.

At the same June press conference at which Olaf director Giovanni Kessler announced that “tit-for-tat” accusations were “becoming popular”, he criticized those who rush to tell the press after filing a complaint with Olaf. Once a public accusation has been made, the investigation may be impeded.

So why did president Schulz comment publicly on the suspicions?

His spokesperson, Armin Machmer, said Schulz “did not make public or communicate through the press any work allegations towards the FN assistants”, adding that it was the French press that first made the allegations.

“The sequence of events was as follows: the parliament's financial services started an investigation following publications in several French media of the organigram of the French party headquarters of the FN, which featured several individuals who were also accredited assistants in the European Parliament, and of suspicions of systematic illegal party financing using cross-financing, in particular from various EP funds,” Machmer informed this website in a written statement.

He said that an internal inquiry by the parliament found that “a number of accredited parliamentary assistants, instead of working at their regular workplace in Brussels, where they were employed under the EU staff regulations, did in fact work at the Front National headquarters in Paris.”

“The same applies to a number of local assistants. As the findings revealed a case of fraud against the EU budget, the president was legally obliged to inform Olaf about these findings and to ask them to take over the case.”

“Furthermore, we are not talking about allegations, but about proven findings of the parliament's services,” Machmer added.

He said that the EP “has in the meantime taken the necessary steps to put an end to the contracts concerned and to recover the sums in question".

This website also asked Machmer if Schulz or the parliament had announced allegations of possible irregularities with MEP assistants from other groups, and if not, why not.

“Whenever Parliament's service are made aware of financial irregularities or of any other breaches of internal rules or of other legislation, these cases are referred to the competent authorities regardless of political affiliation and regardless of the individual in question. The president follows internal and external legal rules and procedures strictly and does not compromise the presumption of innocence through his media work,” said Machmer.

So far, no other allegations have been made public on the EP's website.

MEPs trade fraud allegations over assistants

Allegations that French far-right right MEPs have breached European Parliament rules on hiring assistants have triggered “tit-for-tat” accusations among other MEPs

National Front in EU fraud allegation

The National Front is facing allegations of fraud for having the EU parliament pay salaries to MEP assistants who perform tasks unrelated to the assembly.

EU on path towards whistleblower protection

EU lawmakers and member states have struck a political deal on the first-ever EU-wide directive on whistleblower protection - following years of big tax-evasion revelations and the laundering of dirty money in European banks.

Germany's CDU lukewarm on Macron's EU vision

Germany's anointed new leader has echoed France in calling for EU reform to combat populism - but with a stronger role for national governments and with little prospect of sharing German wealth.

News in Brief

  1. EU tables plan for joint approach to 5G security
  2. MEPs agree to scrap summer time clock changes by 2021
  3. European Parliament votes on reform of copyright
  4. New French-German parliament meets for first time
  5. EU parliament reduces polling ahead of elections
  6. UK parliament votes to take control of Brexit process
  7. EU publishes no-deal Brexit contingency plans
  8. EU urges Israel and Gaza to re-establish calm

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. EU lawmakers pass contentious copyright law
  2. France takes Chinese billions despite EU concerns
  3. Europe before the elections - heading back to the past?
  4. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  5. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  6. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  7. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  8. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us