EU fraud watchdog may be quizzed on Templemore probe

 

The European anti-fraud watchdog Olaf could be hauled before a European Parliament committee in relation to its probe of the suspected fraudulent use of EU funds provided to the Templemore Training College.

The agency has declined to answer a number of questions posed by Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes in relation to Olaf’s investigation into the ‘slush fund’.

A letter to Mr Hayes sent on behalf of Olaf director general Giovanni Kessler confirmed that the organisation was investigating “alleged fraud and irregularities” in relation to the use of EU funds by the college.

The correspondence also noted that “Olaf fully respects the presumption of innocence and the rights of defence of the persons or entities concerned by an investigation”.

But it added that “as the investigation is ongoing… Olaf cannot provide you with further information”.

Among the reasons given was to protect the “legitimate rights of the persons or entities concerned” and ensure the confidentiality of the investigation.

Mr Hayes said he wanted to see Olaf appear before the European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee, saying he believed it was “vital” that MEPs had an opportunity to question the agency on its probe.

“While not wanting to prejudice any investigation, MEPs should have the chance to question Olaf on the procedural aspects of the Templemore investigation,” said Mr Hayes, who is a member of the committee.

“Basic information on timelines, procedures and reporting obligations in the context of the investigation should be provided to MEPs at this stage.”

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan referred the suspected fraud to domestic watchdog the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission in June, and Olaf was also informed of the matter.

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