Wednesday

24th Jan 2018

OLAF to investigate leaked classified report

  • Paul van Buitenen denied suggestions that he leaked his report to OLAF to the press, telling the EUobserver.com that such accounts were "defamatory to the extent of being libellous". (Photo: EUobserver)

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) decided to start an internal investigation concerning a leak of confidential information to the press on the Paul van Buitenen affair and to check allegations that a journalist obtained the classified document after paying an official. If, following investigations, evidence of such offence is found, “the office will open disciplinary proceedings and will inform the competent judicial authorities.”

The leading whistleblower Paul van Buitenen, who contributed to the fall of the Santer commission in 1999 over scandals of corruption and fraud, sent to the European Anti-Fraud Office and to the Commission’s Directorate General for Administration a new report unveiling alleged wrongdoing in the Commission. The Commission and OLAF published two press releases with no details on the cases under investigation, but journalists have obtained a number of documents related to the “van Buitenen” affair.

OLAF opened four investigations after van Buitenen report

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.

The 234 pages-report compiled by Mr van Buitenen, sent to OLAF in August 2001, with 5000 pages of annexes, contained detailed information on alleged fraud and irregularities within the Commission. The document pointed to 270 cases of wrongdoing in the Commission. The EU anti-fraud office decided to open four investigations on the basis of the information contained in the van Buitenen document. One is an external investigation related to the use of European Social Fund money in a member state, according to a Commission statement, the others are internal investigations relating to UCLAF’s (OLAF’s predecessor), the Centre International de Formation Européenne and special inspectors. The Commission adds that the issues under investigation arose before the Prodi Commission took office in 1999.

Report and OLAF analysis leaked to the press

Despite strict EU rules concerning the secrecy of investigations, the report compiled by Mr van Buitenen, as well as the assessment of the report by European Anti-Fraud Office, were leaked to the press. Allegations that a journalist paid a Commission’s official to get the report are set to spark a scandal in Brussels, but OLAF explained it decided to reveal this information in a press release “because of numerous rumours and speculation on the part of media in recent days”.

The object of the leaked report is to advise whether any action should be taken by OLAF following the note sent by Mr van Buitenen. The report presents the methodology of assessing the note, the analysis of allegations, and proposals and recommendations. The alleged cases of wrongdoing revealed in the van Buitenen report relate to ECHO (the EU humanitarian aid office) action in Latin America, to the cabinet of former commissioner Edith Cresson, to the building policy of the European institutions, to Leonardo da Vinci (vocational training) programme.

Investigation

What is 'SECRET UE' anyway?

EU countries have a protocol for sharing official "secrets." But motives for classifying files are not always pure and the number of really hush hush papers in Brussels is tiny.

Berlusconi in Brussels on pre-election charm offensive

Berlusconi reassured EPP leaders about the reliability of his centre-right coalition with the eurosceptic Northern League against the rise of the populist Five Star movement, ahead of Italian political elections in March.

Column / Brussels Bytes

ECJ should rule against Austrian online censorship lawsuit

EU judges have an opportunity to make clear that no member state can decide what the rest of the world reads online, now that Austria's Supreme Court has referred the Glawischnig case to the European Court of Justice.

EU states loosen grip on tax havens

Finance ministers removed eight entities from the tax havens blacklist, while ruling out more transparency or sanctions - prompting criticism from tax-campaigning NGOs such as Oxfam.

Facebook promises privacy reboot ahead of new EU rules

Speaking in Brussels, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, says the social media giant has "not done enough to stop the abuse of our technology." Her admission comes with new plans to wrestle with "bad content".

Opinion

Europe is lacking tech leadership

Despite some 'unicorns', Europe lags way behind the US in tech innovation - and is in danger of being overtaken by China, whilst preoccupied by the online threat from Russia. The EU needs to back France's Macron's new thinking.

Berlusconi in Brussels on pre-election charm offensive

Berlusconi reassured EPP leaders about the reliability of his centre-right coalition with the eurosceptic Northern League against the rise of the populist Five Star movement, ahead of Italian political elections in March.

EU states loosen grip on tax havens

Finance ministers removed eight entities from the tax havens blacklist, while ruling out more transparency or sanctions - prompting criticism from tax-campaigning NGOs such as Oxfam.

News in Brief

  1. Auditors criticise EU economic governance implementation
  2. Dutch environment group appeals air quality ruling
  3. Commission opens case into Polish railways state aid
  4. EU remove eight places from tax havens blacklist
  5. UK to keep forces in Germany over Russia fears
  6. Finnish presidential vote could go to second round
  7. Report: EU might pay Brexit residency fees for EU citizens
  8. Puigdemont free to travel around EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Free AlllianceNo Justice From the Spanish Supreme Court Ruling
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  3. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  5. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  7. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  8. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  9. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  10. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  11. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  12. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit

Latest News

  1. Berlusconi in Brussels on pre-election charm offensive
  2. ECJ should rule against Austrian online censorship lawsuit
  3. EU states loosen grip on tax havens
  4. Facebook promises privacy reboot ahead of new EU rules
  5. Europe is lacking tech leadership
  6. Spitzenkandidat system here to stay, MEPs warn capitals
  7. MEPs to keep 28 UK seats after Brexit
  8. Norway defends new Arctic oil drilling