The European anti-fraud office (OLAF) together with Belgian investigators entered European Commission premises as part of their investigation into a possible case of fraud and/or corruption of an EU official working in the Directorate General for Agriculture (DG AGRI).
This official and a colleague from DG AGRI, have been moved to other posts within the DG, as a precautionary step.
Further actions will be taken based on the information to be received from the Belgian authorities. The Commission reports that at this stage, information gained points towards a case in which an official is said to have accepted bribes in return for passing on commercially interesting information to external companies.
The search of Commission premises, which was carried out yesterday, is the result of an investigation launched by OLAF. This has been transmitted to the Belgian judicial authorities and focuses on a number of companies in the cereal sector in Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Six people were detained in France and two in Belgium.
In 2001, at the request of the Belgian authorities, the Commission lifted the immunity of one official, as well as his duty of discretion, so as to enable him to answer the questions raised by investigators. Absolute secrecy was maintained around the investigation until yesterday, at the request of OLAF and the Belgian authorities.