On 3 and 4 of October representatives of the AFCOS Directorate within the Ministry of interior visited the European Anti-fraud office (OLAF) headquarters. The visit aimed to familiarize the participants with the work of the directorates and units in OLAF and to improve the interaction and cooperation between the both authorities. The visit included introduction of presentations and information by managers and experts in OLAF and discussions at presented information and concrete cases.
The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) closed large-scale investigations in 2017, showing again its capacity to detect and investigate complex fraud schemes across Europe and beyond. OLAF investigations ranged from major undervaluation fraud cases where fraudsters made profit from declaring falsely low values for goods at import in the EU, to cases where OLAF tackled organised crime groups defrauding funds destined for agriculture, or cases where investigators uncovered fraud in large infrastructure projects.
On July 14, 2017, at the request of the Managing Authority of the Science and Education for Smart Growth 2014 – 2020 Operational Program at the Center for the preparation of students for competitions in Sofia, a training seminar was held on the topic "Irregularities and fraud funded by the ESIS". Lecturers in the training were experts from the AFCOS Directorate.
Representatives of the AFCOS Directorate participated in a seminar „Tools for combating fraud and implementation of the National Anti-Fraud Strategy”, which took place from 31 May to 2 June 2017 in Riga, Latvia. More than 80 representatives from the European Commission, OLAF, the European Court of Auditors, AFCOS (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Malta, Croatia and Bulgaria) and competent institutions from different Member States participated in the seminar.
In the period 4 – 6 April 2017 Delegation of the Republic of Latvia conducted a Study visit in Bulgaria. Latvian delegation was headed by Ms. Nata Lasmane – Head of Department Audit Authority within Ministry of Finance, implementing functions of Anti-Fraud Coordination Service (AFCOS) Latvia. Part of the delegation were Ms. Ilona Skorobogatova – Senior auditor within Ministry of Finance, Mr. Jānis Mināts - Prosecutor of the Pre-trial Investigation Monitoring Division, General Prosecutor's Office, Criminal Department and Mr. Kristaps Kalnins – Fraud case investigation, State Police.
On Tuesday, 10 January, 2017, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the Latvian Anti-Fraud Coordination Service (AFCOS) operational strategy of the Ministry of Finance (MoF). After a year of hard work and successful cooperation, the AFCOS – Latvia, together with the AFCOS Services in Malta and Bulgaria, prepared and proposed the anti-fraud document. The strategy was developed through close cooperation with the Latvian competent authorities involved in the mechanism of protection of the EU financial interests.
Every year, more than 3400 billion euro worth of products are imported or exported in the European Union (EU), accounting for 15% of global trade. Import duties on these items alone make up more than 10% of the EU budget - a valuable source of revenue. In recent years, authorities have stepped up their joint efforts to efficiently counter customs fraud and to ensure that this income is not diverted into the pockets of fraudsters.
Following an invitation of Internal Audit and Investigations Department (IAID) within the office of the Prime Minister of Malta (AFCOS Malta) in the period 26.09.2016 г. – 30.09.2016 г. five representatives of AFCOS Directorate visited Valetta in order to exchange experience and good practices in the fight against fraud, affecting the financial interests of the European Union.
Picture this scenario – the European Union imposes anti-dumping duties for a particular product, sunglasses for example, coming from an Asian country. All of a sudden, there is a sharp reduction in such imports from the country in question, but a significant increase in sunglasses being imported from a neighbouring state. Just a coincidence? Not for OLAF investigators, who, with access to state-of-the-art electronic tools, could realise this is a plot by fraudsters to get out of paying duties by falsely declaring the origin of goods.