EU Ombudsman: OLAF does not Respect the Presumption of Innocence

The European Union Ombudsman has stated in a decision that OLAF has failed to recognize the presumption of innocence while collecting information in a pending investigation.

The focal point of the legal argument is this text in a letter requiring information from the complainant’s employers:

“Elements suggest that [the complainant] committed serious irregularities in his position of team leader of the EU funded project [X].”

The Ombudsman considers that the incriminating language used by OLAF in that case does not appear at all necessary or proportionate to OLAF’s stated purpose of obtaining information about the complainant. According to the Ombudsman OLAF did not respect the principle of the presumption of innocence.

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