15 Apr 2010
Marta Andreasen, the outspoken former European Commission chief accountant, says she will recruit accountants and auditors to work at European Union (EU) anti-fraud office OLAF, if she becomes its new director general.
Speaking to Accountancy Age, she confirmed she would be applying for the vacant position, now open because of the death from cancer of OLAF’s first boss Franz-Hermann Brüner in January.
Andreasen said there are “too many lawyers” working for OLAF, whose 500-staff roster, she said, was packed with judges, prosecutors and other judicial experts. Yet OLAF, she stressed, was not a judicial organisation – it is an investigative body that passes its findings onto the police.
Andreasen fears many frauds and irregularities were left uncovered by OLAF, because it had insufficient forensic accounting and auditing expertise.
“OLAF say they are reducing the number of fraud cases. But this is not true – they have reduced the number of cases they find. The fraud has not reduced, it has increased.”
More OLAF accountants and auditors were needed because the “most important” source of information about irregularities was audit reports: “If you don’t understand an audit report, and people who are not accountants and auditors have a problem with that, then you will never find anything we have to investigate,” she warned. She added: “If this means reducing the legal staff, well we might have to reduce the legal staff.”
Until the position is filled, director Nicholas Ilett will continue as acting director general. The job involves coordinating investigations, managing 500 staff and controlling a budget of around Euro 50 million.
Andreasen added that she would push for OLAF to be formally removed from the European Commission, of which it is still a part, even though it has legal authority protecting its investigations from interference. She is currently UKIP MEP for south-east England and a member of the European Parliament’s budgetary control committee. She would step down from these positions if she because OLAF chief.
Marta Andreasen on whistleblowing
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