by Dr. Christoph Billwiller
The increasing number of cases of fraud and other irregularities affecting the financial budget of the European Community led to the establishment of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) in 1999. OLAF's task is to carry out on-the-spot checks on economic operators, either autonomously or in cooperation with the national authorities in the Member States, in order to detect and prevent damage to the Community budget. The establishment of OLAF as an independent office has given rise to various problems, particularly from a procedural point of view, since OLAF staff are required to comply with national procedural rules, subject to the applicable Community law.
The present paper deals specifically with OLAF's powers to carry out such checks in Portugal and is intended to provide information to OLAF staff, but also to the economic operators concerned, on OLAF's investigative powers. The main focus of the work is to present the European and national procedural rules that are important in Portugal.