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In a piece of news from January 2021 it was said that:

The EU’s anti-fraud watchdog, OLAF, has opened an investigation into Frontex, the bloc’s border agency, over allegations of harassment, misconduct and migrant pushbacks, according to four EU officials.

The two agencies confirmed an investigation was talking place, but did not confirm/provide any other detail.

So, I wonder: to what extent can OLAF investigate such allegations, since they mostly involve [alleged] human-rights violations, but OLAF is an anti-fraud agency?

(The two agencies often cooperate, e.g. on tobacco smuggling, so one investigating the other also seems odd.)

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OLAF's mission includes investigation of corruption, including

suspicions of serious misconduct by EU staff and members of the EU institutions.

More precisely, article 2(1) of its establishing document:

  1. The Office shall exercise the Commission’s powers to carry out external administrative investigations for the purpose of strengthening the fight against fraud, corruption and any other illegal activity adversely affecting the Union’s financial interests, as well as any other act or activity by operators in breach of Union provisions.

The Office shall be responsible for carrying out internal administrative investigations intended:

(a) to combat fraud, corruption and any other illegal activity adversely affecting the Union’s financial interests,

(b) to investigate serious facts linked to the performance of professional activities which may constitute a breach of obligations by officials and servants of the Communities likely to lead to disciplinary and, in appropriate cases, criminal proceedings or an analogous breach of obligations by Members of the institutions and bodies, heads of the bodies or members of staff of the institutions and bodies not subject to the Staff Regulations of Officials of the European Communities and the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the Communities.

The Office shall exercise the Commission’s powers as they are defined in the provisions established in the framework of the Treaties, and subject to the limits and conditions laid down therein.

The Office may be entrusted with investigations in other areas by the Commission or by the other institutions or bodies.

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  • Ok, so I guess it comes under "misconduct" and "breach of obligations by officials and servants of the Communities likely to lead to disciplinary and, in appropriate cases, criminal proceedings".
    – Fizz
    Aug 15 at 23:37
  • @Fizz misconduct certainly does (;-)), and I should think that the others do too, especially considering phrases like "illegal activity" and "breach of obligations."
    – phoog
    Aug 15 at 23:40
  • This seems like a pretty broad mandate for the European Anti-Fraud Office. In the correct-thinking US, that would be investigated by the Inspector General.
    – RonJohn
    Aug 16 at 15:09
  • @RonJohn "What's in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet." Inspector generals (the US seems to have one per executive department) do basically the same thing: they fight fraud and misconduct. The name of the office doesn't much matter. The EU's structure is rather different from that of the US, so the implementation details are also rather different, but, still, a name is just a name.
    – phoog
    Aug 16 at 15:59
  • @phoog false analogy. "Water" and "agua" both mean "the liquid form of the chemical compound H-O-H". Fraud, on the other hand, just has one meaning: "an act of deceiving or misrepresenting". (The "multiple" definitions at merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fraud all center around deception and trickery for the purpose of getting something from someone else.)
    – RonJohn
    Aug 16 at 16:19

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