Tag Archives: investigation

Is OLAF Authorized to Search EP Premises?

The simple answer is yes. Some justification follows.

First – some background of the case. The English newspaper Sunday Times has conducted an investigation, claiming that several MEPs were willing to take money in exchange for filing legislative amendments. Three MEPs were named – the Austrian centre-right Ernst Strasser, the Slovenian Socialist Zoran Thaler and the Romanian Socialist Adrian Severin. OLAF decided to open a formal investigation immediately and OLAF investigators attempted to collect evidence from the offices of the concerned MEPs located at the premises of the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday 22 March. However, the EP authorities refused to give access to these offices and claimed these would be secured by EP security personnel.

The EP clearly erred here. As OLAF has pointed out in its statement, its competences are outlined in art. 325 TFEU, and Regulation (EC) No 1073/1999 concerning investigations conducted by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). Art. 1, para. 3 of Regulation (EC) No 1073/1999 specifically points out that OLAF shall conduct administrative investigations within the institutions for the purpose of fighting fraud, corruption and any other illegal activity affecting the financial interests of the EU. Art. 4, para. 2 clearly says that OLAF has the right of immediate and unannounced access to any information held by the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, and to their premises. In addition, Annex XII to the Rules of Procedure of the EP the services and any official or servant of the EP is required to cooperate fully with the Office’s agents and to lend any assistance required to the investigation.

Now, someone might claim that by providing the documents in question, the EP might have cooperated in good faith without granting physical access to OLAF. This is not true, however. First, the purpose of immediate and unannounced access to information and documents is to prevent any opportunity for tampering the evidence. Second, the EP officials are not trained and do not have legal authorization to open locked premises, document containers, etc.

European Commission, German Financial Regulator Follow Closely the Goldman Sachs Investigation

EUobserver reports that both the European Commission and the German financial regulator BaFin are following closely the investigation of the US investment bank Goldman Sachs (see the detailed legal analysis by Bill Singer).

UK’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also demanded investigation of the possible fraudulent activities of Goldman Sachs.

It is worth reminding that Goldman Sachs was also involved in providing help to the Greek government in order to hide an additional 1 billion US dollars in debt by currency swaps.

Bulgarian Prosecution Denies Police Brutality during January Protests

The Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office has declined to initiate a formal investigation against police officers for the severe suppression of the protest in front of the Bulgarian Parliament on 14 January 2009.

I could not disagree more with this conclusion. I was myself witness of cases of police brutality during that day in my attempt to protest peacefully. I wrote about the police brutality the same day (you can read a Google translation of my account). I was later not surprised to see that the Bulgarian Parliament declined to form an ad hoc commission to investigate events during that day.

Now the Prosecutor’s Office tells me I didn’t see what I saw; that I am not able to discern between necessary and unnecessary use of force. True, it is up to that institution to conduct a formal investigation of events; it is also up to the prosecutors to decide whether there are grounds for starting an investigation in the first place.

But this development given all the information that we have about the events is really cynical. It is also exonerating all the acts of police brutality during that day. It is delegitimizing the whole Bulgarian law enforcement system only to protect the political instigators of that brutality.

Strangely enough, this announcement comes just a few days after the Minister of Justice announced 57 measures to reform the judiciary in order to respond to the criticism of the European Commission and Member States about our justice system.

Make no mistake – until ALL crimes in this country are prosecuted, no matter WHO committed these crimes – we will not have achieved any meaningful reform of the judiciary.

European Ombudsman Criticizes Intel Investigation

The Wall Street Journal reports that the European Ombudsman has criticized the conduct of the European Commission during the investigation against US chipmaker Intel. Mr. Diamandouros has said that the European Commission committed “maladministration” by not recording in the case file a formal account of an August 2006 meeting between commission investigators and a senior Dell Inc. executive who was providing evidence in the case.

The report says that the executive, who isn’t identified, is believed to have told investigators that Dell viewed the performance of Intel rival Advanced Micro DevicesInc. as “very poor.” That could imply that Dell chose Intel chips for technical reasons.

Proposal for Ad Hoc EP Mafia Committee

The European Parliament should tackle the problems posed by mafias across Europe by setting up an ad hoc committee to investigate their connection with “financial, entrepreneurial and political systems,” according to Italian MEP Rosario Crocetta.

What a good idea!