Commission raided over fraud charges

EU offices, companies and homes in Belgium, France, Luxemburg and Italy have been raided by police over charges of bribery and breaches of public-tender rules for Commission buildings.

The raids were carried out in the early hours of 27 March 2007 simultaneously by 150 police officers in more than 30 premises in Belgium, France, Luxemburg and Italy. Buildings raided included the Berlaymont building – the Commission headquarters in Brussels – and the office of one offical in the European Parliament. 

An undisclosed number of Commission officials were being interrogated by the police following the surprise searches. A decision on whether three or four officials were going to be held in custody was due for the morning of 28 March. 

The raids followed a three-year investigation led by the Belgian police’s anti-corruption unit Office central pour la répression de la corruption (OCRC), in which the EU’s anti-fraud unit OLAF was also involved. The investigation concerns alleged corruption in the tendering process for Commission buildings in France, Luxembourg and Italy, and for the security equipment installed in those buildings. 

A spokesman for the Belgian prosecutor said: “The investigation involves suspected bribery of European civil servants, forming a criminal organisation, violating professional secrecy, breaches of public-tender laws and forgery.”

Commission spokesman Johannes Laitenberger said: “This is an ongoing investigation, therefore it would be inappropriate for the Commission to comment at this stage on the investigation.” He added: “What I can say is that the Commission, through OLAF, is fully co-operating with the national authorities of Belgium, which are carrying out the investigation, and this with a view on shedding full light on the allegations and suspicions which do exist. And of course, until the investigation is concluded, the presumption of innocence applies.”

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