25 November 2013
Ombudsman: OLAF should explain to whistleblower why it closed an investigation
The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, has asked the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) to explain to a whistleblower why it closed its investigation into alleged irregularities in an EU Agency. OLAF opened an investigation, but then closed the case and refused to tell the whistleblower the reasons. The Ombudsman has asked OLAF to reply to her recommendation by 28 February 2014.
Emily O'Reilly stated: "OLAF may well have good reasons for closing its investigation, but it should explain its decision to the whistleblower. All EU institutions should encourage and support people who help them to identify and tackle problems that could weaken citizens' trust in the EU. OLAF's position in this case is discouraging for whistleblowers."
"It is not OLAF's policy to explain or give reasons"
A former employee of the Fundamental Rights Agency informed OLAF about alleged irregularities. OLAF opened an investigation and later closed the case, stating to the complainant that "it is not OLAF's policy to explain or give reasons for its decision to close an investigation". In 2012, the whistleblower lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman.
OLAF argued that it was not obliged to give reasons and that it had to protect the confidentiality of its investigations and the independence of its institution.
The Ombudsman did not accept these arguments. Emily O'Reilly stressed that all EU institutions have an obligation to inform citizens about their decisions and that this is self-evident in a democratic society. She added that this does not imply that OLAF should disclose confidential information. The Ombudsman found it difficult to understand how disclosing the reasons for closing an investigation could possibly compromise the independence of OLAF.
The recommendation is available at:
The European Ombudsman investigates complaints about maladministration in the EU institutions and bodies. Any EU citizen, resident, or an enterprise or association in a Member State, can lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman offers a fast, flexible, and free means of solving problems with the EU administration. For more information: http://www.ombudsman.europa.eu
For press inquiries: Ms Gundi Gadesmann, Deputy Head of the Communication Unit, tel.: +32 2 284 26 09, Twitter @EUombudsman