Wednesday

19th Jun 2019

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

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

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.

EU urges Swiss to move on talks or face sanction

The EU commission tells Switzerland that clarifications to the draft deal are possible - but not renegotiations. The message is clear to 'Brexit' Britain as well: the Swiss model is over, there are no special agreements.

Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court

The General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg will next month hold a public hearing on the refusal by Frontex, the EU's border agency, to release documents concerning its border control and surveillance operation known as Triton.

News in Brief

  1. New socialist group leader to push for Timmermans
  2. Romanian ex-PM frontrunner to head new liberal group
  3. France, Germany and Spain in fighter jet deal
  4. Tusk grilled in Poland over role as PM
  5. Italy is 'most credible' US partner in EU, says Salvini
  6. EU blames Sudan junta for killings and rapes
  7. Report: EU may suspend Turkey customs union talks
  8. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July

Interview

Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC

Juan Branco is a lawyer and co-author of a legal document submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) accusing EU officials and member states of crimes against humanity for their migration policies. "Some people should have to go to prison."

Agenda

Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK

A summit in Belgian capital this week will host heads of government and state to discuss top EU institutional posts. But before they meet, the jockeying for the Commission presidency will have already started among the European political groups.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. EU urges Swiss to move on talks or face sanction
  2. Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court
  3. Commission goes easy on scant national climate plans
  4. Macron and Mogherini decline to back US accusation on Iran
  5. EU summit must give effective answer on migration
  6. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  7. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  8. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us