i sing of Olaf glad and big
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
What happened was this. In February and March 2002, Mr Tillack, a journalist at the German magazine Stern, published two articles in which he alleged that there were instances of misfeasance by officials within the European institutions to which attention had been drawn by another official of the European Communities, a certain Mr Van Buitenen. The Commission's anti-fraud and corruption office, OLAF, carried out an investigation to identify the bureaucrats who were the source of the leak of the memorandum written by Mr Van Buitenen. OLAF stated in a press release of March 27th, 2002 that
‘it is not excluded that payment may have been made to somebody within OLAF (or possibly another EU institution) for these documents’. Stern admitted to being in possession of the Van Buitenen memorandum but denied that it paid money to obtain documents. Mr Tillack complained of the OLAF press release of March 27th 2002 to the European Ombudsman, who, in a recommendation to OLAF, stated that making allegations of bribery without a factual basis constituted an instance of maladministration. In February 2004, OLAF sent information concerning suspicions of breach of professional secrecy and bribery to the public prosecutor in Brussels and Hamburg. An investigation into alleged corruption and for breach of professional secrecy was opened in Belgium. The Belgian police conducted raids and searched Mr Tillack’s home and office and basically trashed both places.
Mr Tillack was not thrilled and brought an action before the Court of First Instance to annul the measure by which OLAF sent information to the public prosecutor in Brussels and Hamburg, and for damages to compensate for the harm suffered.
The Court of First Instance dismissed Mr. Tillack's claims.
In the first place, the Court of First Instance held that there was no legally binding measure to annul. The action OLAF took by sending information to the national authorities has no binding legal effect on them because they remain free to decide what action should be taken following an OLAF investigation. Consequently, any investigation and prosecution by the national authorities is a matter within their sole and entire responsibility.
As for the action for damages, the Court held there was no direct causal link between OLAF sending the information to the Belgian judicial authorities and the damage alleged in order for liability to be established on that basis.
The interesting bit is where the Court of First Instance finds that the characterization of behavior as an ‘act of maladministration’ by the Ombudsman in his decision on Mr. Tillack's complaint does not mean, in itself, that OLAF’s conduct constitutes a sufficiently serious breach of a rule of law.
Since then, you'll be relieved to learn, OLAF has turned its attention to the serious problem of garlic smuggling. To the relief of the vampires in the EU.