OLAF raids European Court of Auditors premises

The European Court of Auditors. [Transparency International EU Office/Flickr]

EXCLUSIVE / The European Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF, raided on Wednesday (29 November) the premises of the European Court of Auditors, the watchdog of EU finances, according to reliable sources who spoke to EURACTIV.

EURACTIV has learnt that the raid is related to an ongoing OLAF investigation on an ECA member.

Contacted by EURACTIV, EU Auditors said they can neither confirm nor deny the raid.

On 19 October, MEPs in the budgetary committee refused to renew the Belgian candidate Karel Pinxten’s mandate for a third term with the European Court of Auditors (ECA), while endorsing six others in secret ballots.

Reacting to the vote, Pinxten said it was an “internal affair”. “I am waiting for the vote in the January plenary [in the Parliament],” he added.

According to De Standaard, the allegations were reported already in 2016 and were allegedly related to EU travel expenses and per diems.

“I really urge OLAF to conclude the investigation quickly in order for the January plenary meeting to assess the situation with all the elements on the table,” Green MEP Bart Staes told the newspaper on 20 October.

ECA said in a statement it had  “received allegations from several whistleblowers regarding one of its members, Mr Karel Pinxten.”

“In line with the relevant rules, the ECA transmitted the information to OLAF. The ECA is cooperating fully with OLAF.  The presumption of innocence for Mr Pinxten must prevail,” it said.

“We will not comment further while the matter is under investigation by OLAF to avoid prejudicing the investigation,” the EU auditors added.

During his hearing in the committee, Pinxten said he would resign if OLAF decided that he had made mistakes.

Some EU lawmakers also claimed that a mandate like Pinxten’s should be restricted to 2 instead of 3 terms.

OLAF, which usually refuses to comment on ongoing investigations, has not been available for a comment.