OLAF (European Anti-fraud Office)
The European Anti-Fraud Office has been responsible since 1 June 1999 for combating fraud against the European Union budget.
Created by a European Commission Decision, OLAF replaced the Anti-Fraud Coordination Unit (UCLAF), created in 1988 with a mandate limited to the European Commission.
The new Office investigates the management and financing of all the Union's institutions and bodies with absolute operational independence. This independence is guaranteed by:
- the Director of OLAF: appointed in agreement with Parliament, the Commission and the Council, he is able to appeal before the Court of Justice of the European Union to protect his independence. Moreover, he can launch an investigation not only at the request of the institution, body or Member State concerned, but also on his own initiative;
- OLAF's Supervisory Committee: responsible for monitoring the investigative function, it comprises five independent outside persons appointed jointly by Parliament, the Commission and the Council.
The arrangements for the internal investigations carried out by OLAF in order to combat fraud, corruption and other illegal activities which harm the financial interests of the European Union were laid down in an interinstitutional agreement of May 1999 between Parliament, the Council and the Commission. This agreement extends the powers of the Office to include serious cases of professional misconduct by officials and other servants with disciplinary or penal consequences. Several regulations deal with the notification of irregularities and the recovery of sums wrongly paid. Other regulations lay down the procedure for investigations and operations, as well as in situ checks.