The Malta Independent 1 November 2014, Saturday

EPP spokeswoman calls for suspension of Olaf chief Giovanni Kessler

Malta Independent Tuesday, 28 May 2013, 16:08 Last update: about 8 months ago

The EPP Group spokeswoman on the European Parliament's Budgetary Control Committee Inge Grässle has called for the suspension of the head of the EU’s anti-fraud office (OLAF) Giovanni Kessler and for a far-reaching reform of this institution.

The German Mep made this call ahead of tomorrow’s committee hearing of OLAF's Director-General Giovanni Kessler,  in the wake of the resignation of former European Commissioner John Dalli.

Grässle, who is the European Parliament's Rapporteur for the reform of OLAF's legal base, said: "The Dalli case has brought to light serious mismanagement of OLAF. Europe's anti-fraud office must stop its navel-gazing and cowboy style and start working again for the interests of Europe's citizens. OLAF needs a fresh start with a new Director-General at the helm. In order to ensure better control, access of the supervisory committee to all closed case files is necessary”, Grässle said.

MEPs in the Budgetary Control Committee are expected to ask questions about the management of OLAF's investigations at the hearing of Giovanni Kessler, scheduled to take place on Wednesday at 10am, following severe criticism of the conduct of OLAF's investigation in the Dalli case by its own supervisory committee which highlighted serious misconduct and breaches of fundamental rights in a recent activity report.

Figures provided by OLAF itself show that in 2012, the anti-fraud office spent a disproportionate part of its manpower on the Dalli case. While 365 out of a total of 465 investigations OLAF led last year did not produce a result, almost 8% of the total number of interviews OLAF investigators conducted with suspects in all of 2012 were made in connection with the Dalli case (5 out of 66). Similarly, 6 of the total 108 witness interviews conducted by OLAF investigators the same year were in connection with the Dalli case.

"These figures suggest a gross misallocation of resources. While OLAF's Director-General personally led the investigation against John Dalli, he must answer the question whether this came at the expense of regular investigations into fraud with EU money. The European Commission must push the reset button and suspend Director-General Kessler in order to make sure OLAF fulfils its tasks once again", Grässle said.
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