Eurostat execs win damages

Eurostat loses ECJ case over fraud investigation

Damages have been awarded to the former executives of European Union (EU)
statistical agency Eurostat after it was found their human rights had been
breached in a high profile EU fraud probe.

The European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) Court of First Instance found that both
EU anti-fraud office OLAF and the European Commission had broken procedural
rules when investigating Eurostat former director-general Yves Franchet and
former director Daniel Byk.

OLAF concluded that both men had committed illegal irregularities regarding
Eurostat financial procedures, and handed files to the Luxembourg and French
judicial authorities.

However, the court has ruled OLAF ‘infringed the rights of defence’ of these
men by referring ‘to them publicly – including through leaks to the press – as
guilty of criminal offences’. This said the court, breached mandatory principles
of the presumption of innocence; the obligation of confidentiality in
investigations; and the principle of sound administration. These ‘wrongful acts’
rendered the EU liable to damages.

The Commission also prejudiced their case, the court ruled, finding Brussels
did not act ‘with all the required discretion and reserve’ required to maintain
‘a fair balance between the interests of Mr Franchet and Mr Byk and those of the
institution.’ The men will share Euro 56,000 damages as a result.

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