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Decision in case 193/2021/AMF on the European Anti-Fraud Office´s refusal to provide public access to a call for tenders for an EU funded project that was the object of an investigation

Jeudi | 17 juin 2021

The case concerned a request for access to a public call for tenders for an EU funded project that was investigated by the European Anti-Fraud Office. OLAF had argued that providing the complainant with the call (which is already in the public domain) would damage its decision-making process and the purpose of its investigations because it would allow the complainant to identify the project in question and therefore the subject matter of the investigation. The Ombudsman´s inquiries team asked OLAF to clarify how its decision making process and the purpose of its investigations could be damaged when the call was public and the investigation was closed in 2019.

Taking into account the arguments put forward by OLAF in its reply to the Ombudsman´s inquiries team, the Ombudsman agreed that the disclosure of the call would undermine OLAF´s decision-making process and the purpose of its investigations. Therefore, the inquiry was closed with a finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case OI/2/2020/NH on the European Anti-Fraud Office’s refusal to grant public access to documents related to its investigation of possible links between Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and a family member of the Syrian President

Mercredi | 29 juillet 2020

The case concerned how the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) handled a request by a journalist for public access to documents about an OLAF investigation into a tobacco product manufacturer and its possible links to a family member of the Syrian President.

OLAF invoked the general presumption that public access to the requested documents would be particularly detrimental to its ability to fulfil its mission to fight fraud in the public interest. OLAF therefore concluded, without assessing each document individually, that access to the documents could not be granted.

The Ombudsman found that OLAF had correctly applied the EU rules on public access to documents. After reviewing the final OLAF report in this case, the Ombudsman found that only one short section was relevant to the complainant’s request.  

The Ombudsman closed the inquiry with a finding that there had not been maladministration by OLAF. She nevertheless suggested to OLAF that it assess the relevant section of the report and consider granting public access to it.