BRUSSELS, Jan 12 (EUROPA PRESS) –
The Anti-Fraud Office of the European Union (OLAF) has reported this Tuesday of an open investigation against the European agency that controls the external border, Frontex, which is already under the focus of the EU Ombudsman for its possible collusion with expulsions hot water in the Aegean Sea, to prevent migrants from reaching Greece from Turkey.
The anti-fraud office has confirmed to Europa Press the start of the investigation but they avoid giving more details about the merits of the case in order to “protect the confidentiality” of the case and “guarantee the protection of data and fundamental rights” in case the investigations have legal consequences.
However, OLAF wanted to underline that the fact of initiating an investigation “does not mean that the persons or entities involved are guilty of having committed fraud” and affirms that it fully respects the presumption of innocence of those investigated.
The agency that controls the external border of the EU, for its part, has indicated to Europa Press through a spokesman that it is “cooperating fully” with OLAF but does not respond to since when it has been investigated or when they have received the visit of the OLAF agents at Frontex headquarters in Warsaw.
“OLAF has asked Frontex not to disclose any details so as not to impede the development of its work,” explained the spokesman, who assured that OLAF’s visits to the different European agencies or institutions are a “normal practice of good governance”.
In this way, Frontex has wanted to emphasize that “this type of visit does not necessarily imply bad practices”, but can be activated by the European organizations themselves.
Frontex has been under the focus of controversy for several months, after a consortium of European investigative media denounced its alleged complicity in irregular expulsions of migrants trying to reach Greece via the Aegean Sea from Turkey.
Frontex itself launched an internal investigation in October to clarify whether agents under its command participated in this type of hot returns and, as early as November, the EU Ombudsman opened a file to request explanations from the European Coast Guard Corps, at that expelled asylum seekers also accuse of not applying the complaint mechanism to verify their complaints.