Thursday

14th Dec 2017

EU anti-fraud office unhappy with extra scrutiny proposal

  • EU taxation commissioner Semeta said a new Olaf oversight body is needed (Photo: European Parliament)

A special committee charged with overseeing the EU’s anti-fraud body, Olaf, is unhappy with a European Commission proposal to create an additional watchdog.

After spending nine years in negotiations that led to a major overhaul of Olaf last year, the commission over the summer proposed setting up a "controller of procedural guarantees" to help boost public confidence in the body.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

But the head of the supervisory committee, a body of five outside independent experts already tasked to monitor Olaf’s administrative investigations, describes the commission’s idea as superfluous and unnecessary.

“We do not understand the need for such parallelism, which would mean that Olaf and its director-general would have more than one supervisory body,” Johan Denolf told euro-deputies in the parliament’s budgetary control committee on Monday (8 September).

Denolf has been at loggerheads with Olaf in an outstanding issue over access to case information and files. The issue is largely rooted in how Olaf conducted its 2012 probe into former EU commissioner for health, John Dalli.

The supervisory committee at the time complained Olaf had obstructed its role by keeping it in the dark in a case that saw Dalli leave office in disgrace over allegations he had solicited bribes from the tobacco industry via an intermediary.

“If the legislator wants to reinforce and widen the supervision over Olaf, which is a wise idea, it would seem most logical to reinforce and widen the competences of the committee currently supervising Olaf,” noted Denolf.

Denolf says the committee still doesn’t know if Olaf is sticking to the rules whenever it conducts its administrative investigations because it is does not get complete access to case files.

Details over the commission’s proposal remains murky among the MEPs who wanted answers from EU taxation commissioner Algirdas Semeta.

Semeta gave the budgetary control committee a brief presentation of the new controller but left before MEPs could question him.

He noted the decision to not expand the supervisory committee’s oversight power was political and would risk dragging it into on-going investigations.

“This solution was discussed extensively between 2004 and 2012 and got no support from the Council (member states). It is therefore not likely it would be supported by the Council today,” he said.

Another difference, he added, was that the supervisory committee’s role is to look at “systemic problems in Olaf’s function” whereas the controller “is to review individual and on-going cases in the interest of person’s concerned.”

The commission maintains the supervisory committee is not mandated to interfere in ongoing investigations or to examine the respect of fundamental rights in individual cases. That right instead goes to its new controller.

Under the commission’s proposal, the controller has two roles.

The first is to review complaints from people being probed by Olaf over alleged violations of their rights.

The second would require Olaf to first ask the controller permission to enter the offices of elected and appointed members of the EU institutions.

Despite being attached to the commission, Semeta said the controller “would remain fully independent”.

Olaf’s 2013 overhaul includes new rules meant to guarantee that rights are respected whenever someone is being investigated. It also sets up rights for witnesses and obligations to carry out legality checks on Olaf investigations.

“These changes were a major step forward,” said the commissioner.

Investigation

Part I: From Peppi’s to Barroso’s

Part I of VIII: EUobserver takes a closer look at the Barroso commission's biggest scandal - tobacco lobbying and John Dalli - in events some say will haunt the EU "for the next 10 years".

Investigation

Part II: Malta's 'Mr Teflon'

Part II of VIII: Prince William peers out of a black stretched luxury car as the vehicle turns down a street in Malta’s capital city, Valletta.

Romania wants EU signal on Schengen membership

Bucharest expects other member states to decide on its accession to the passport-free area before it takes the rotating EU presidency on 1 January 2019 - amid criticism of a controversial new justice reform.

Germany says China using LinkedIn to recruit informants

Germany's spy agency says the Chinese state is trying to recruit high-ranking German officials via social media outlets like LinkedIn. It accused Chinese intelligence of setting up fake profiles to lure them into becoming informants.

Germany says China using LinkedIn to recruit informants

Germany's spy agency says the Chinese state is trying to recruit high-ranking German officials via social media outlets like LinkedIn. It accused Chinese intelligence of setting up fake profiles to lure them into becoming informants.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Estonia completes two out of three priority digital bills
  2. EU countries are not 'tax havens', parliament says
  3. Tech firms' delays mean EU needs rules for online terror
  4. Slovak PM: Human rights are not a travel pass to EU
  5. British PM limps to EU capital after Brexit defeat
  6. US pleads for clarity on Brexit aviation 'black hole'
  7. Tusk migration note prompts institutional 'hysteria'
  8. Migration looms over summit, as Africa pledges fall short

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  2. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  3. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  4. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  6. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  7. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  8. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  9. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  10. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  11. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  12. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives