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Alleged inadequate response to the complainant's provision of information under Article 22a of the Staff Regulations

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  • Case: 1697/2010/JN
    Opened on 03 Sep 2010 - Decision on 15 Mar 2013
  • Institution(s) concerned: European Anti-Fraud Office
  • Field(s) of law: General, financial and institutional matters
  • Types of maladministration alleged – (i) breach of, or (ii) breach of duties relating to: Lawfulness (incorrect application of substantive and/or procedural rules) [Article 4 ECGAB],Reasonable time-limit for taking decisions [Article 17 ECGAB]
  • Subject matter(s): Administration and Staff Regulations
Author: European Commission
Copyright: European Union / European Commission

Summary of the decision on complaint 1697/2010/(BEH)JN against the European Anti-Fraud Office

In the course of his professional duties as an official of the European Court of Auditors (the 'ECA'), the complainant came across information relating to a closed investigation of the European Anti-Fraud Office ('OLAF'). Considering that the information fell under the reporting duty set out in Article 22a of the Staff Regulations, he provided OLAF with the information but received no reply. In his complaint to the European Ombudsman, the complainant alleged that OLAF failed to comply with the procedure set out in Article 22b of the Staff Regulations. He took the view that, on the basis of his disclosure, OLAF could have pursued its investigation. In its opinion, OLAF argued that it did not need to apply the said procedure because the complainant's disclosure was related to the audit on which he was working.

The Ombudsman did not agree with OLAF. He closed the case with several critical remarks. First, the Ombudsman considered that OLAF wrongly assessed the nature of the complainant's disclosure, i.e., that it was not a disclosure under Article 22a of the Staff Regulations. Second, OLAF failed to deal with the complainant's disclosure pursuant to Article 22b of the Staff Regulations, namely, to inform the complainant, within 60 days, of the period of time it had set for itself to take appropriate action. Third, the Ombudsman considered that OLAF failed to provide the complainant with the protection granted to whistleblowers by the Staff Regulations, in that (i) it took a critical stand vis-à-vis the complainant and the compliance of his disclosure with his professional duties as an auditor in a letter to the ECA, and (ii) it forwarded the complainant's note to a Member and also to a Director of the ECA.

Finally, in light of all the evidence submitted to him, the Ombudsman took the view that OLAF failed properly to justify why it did not wish to contact the former President of the organisation concerned by its investigation and identified by the complainant.