EU Anti-Fraud Office: Fraud Against the EU Budget is Declining
The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) said on Monday that although the European Union made more money available to member states so they can fight the pandemic, the financial impact of detected fraud against the EU budget continued to decline in 2020.
Annual Report on the Protection of the EU’s financial interests.“The 1,056 fraudulent irregularities reported in 2020 had a combined financial impact of 371 million euro (US$435.41 million), around 20% less than in 2019 and continuing the steady decrease of the last five years,” read OLAF’s latest
During the same period, the number of non-fraudulent irregularities remained steady but fell by six percent in value, the office said.
At the same time, the EU’s exposure to fraud has increased by two trillion euros ($2.34 trillion), which the Union made available to assist member states in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic impact.
“Working together at the EU and member state levels to keep this money safe from fraud has never been more important,” the EU Commissioner for Budget and Administration, Johannes Hahn, said.
He stressed that the different components of the EU’s anti-fraud architecture provide defence against the fraudsters — “the investigative and analytical work of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the prosecutorial powers of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), the coordinating role of Eurojust, the operational capacity of Europol, and close cooperation with and between national authorities.”
The report also reflects on the new risks and challenges to the EU’s financial interests that have emerged as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the means to address them.
It also advised that the European Commission and EU member states should not relax their guard when it comes to fraud concerns, but should instead continue to work hard to improve both fraud prevention and detection.
Last year only, OLAF concluded 230 investigations, issued 375 recommendations to the relevant national and EU authorities, recommended the recovery of 293.4 million euro ($344.29 million) to the EU budget, opened 290 new investigations and completed 1,098 preliminary analyses.