With the support of the Commission, OLAF and Belgian investigators yesterday entered its premises in the context of their investigation into a possible case of fraud and/or corruption of an EU official working in the Directorate General for Agriculture (DG AGRI). This official and a colleague from DG AGRI have been moved to other posts within the DG, as a precautionary step. Further actions will be taken based on the information to be received from the Belgian authorities. The information available to the Commission at this stage points towards a case in which an official is said to have accepted bribes in return for passing on commercially interesting information to external companies.
The search of Commission premises carried out yesterday is the result of an investigation launched by OLAF, which was then transmitted to the Belgian judicial authorities and focuses on a number of companies in the cereal sector in Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Six people were detained in France and two in Belgium.
In 2001, at the request of the Belgian authorities, the Commission lifted the immunity of one official, as well as his duty of discretion, so as to enable him to answer the questions raised by investigators. Absolute secrecy was maintained around the investigation until yesterday, at the request of OLAF and the Belgian authorities.
As the investigation is on-going, the Commission can make no further comment at this stage. For further details, please contact the Belgian prosecutor's office : Mr Jos Colpin, 02.508.74.44.