Answer to Written Question: Bribery concerning humanitarian aid in Syria
(Source: European Parliament)
Answer given by Mr Lenarčič
on behalf of the European Commission
The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) opened an investigation on this case at the end of 2016. As soon as the Commission was informed of this fraud allegation, all the payments to GOAL which were potentially linked with any of Mr Halilov’s activities, were put on hold. The investigation was concluded at the end of 2019. Following the conclusions of the investigation, in January 2020 the Commission deducted, as recommended by OLAF, the amount of EUR 1 462 222 from the final payments due to GOAL on the grants concerned.
GOAL kept the Commission duly informed of all actions taken to prevent fraud from occurring again in the field. Notably, GOAL dismissed all employees confirmed to be involved in the fraud case, launched an independent audit to determine the impact and the root causes of the alleged fraud, repatriated some risk activities to its headquarters in Europe, reinforced the teams in the field, and created a cell devoted to the prevention, detection and follow-up of fraud and corruption.
At a general level, any non-governmental organisation/grant beneficiary that receives funding from the Commission must have adequate internal control systems in place, which include procedures to prevent fraud and corruption, and to detect and correct them if they occur despite the existence of preventive measures. The design and effectiveness of these internal control systems and procedures are subject to a positive validation by an independent audit.