EU’s anti-fraud office Olaf said in its annual report for 2015 that the re-organisation carried out in 2012 has improved effectiveness “across all areas”, opening 219 new investigations in 2015 and concluding 304 investigations, which was a new record for the office.
Last year, Olaf issued 364 recommendations to the relevant EU and national authorities and recommended the financial recovery of 888 million euro.
The report does not feature individual country sections, but it does have some statistics about the number of investigations referred to judicial authorities in EU member states – predictably, Bulgaria has one of the highest number of such investigations, given that Olaf was involved in a number of probes involving the misuse of funds allocated under the Sapard pre-accession programme.
Since 2008, Olaf referred 37 cases to Bulgaria’s judicial authorities (out of a total of 527). Of those, eight are still in the 12-month period in which the competent authority has to report on its actions taken following Olaf’s recommendations, and legal proceedings are still underway in another eight cases. The remaining 21 cases saw nine dismissals and 12 indictments.
Olaf’s report also features several case studies of the office’s investigations, including one in Bulgaria, concerning the modernisation of a refrigeration plant for fruit and vegetables in Bulgaria, which received 1.3 million euro in EU funding. The investigation confirmed suspicions that there had been manipulation of the procurement procedure, in which an Italian national had sold the machinery to the Bulgarian plant, which was owned by a company managed by the same individual.
(Photo: G Schouten de Jel)