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European Anti-Fraud Office
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Success stories

EU revenues

Award winning work in preventing the illegal trade of F-gases in the Netherlands and Greece

In recent years OLAF has worked with partners to prevent the illicit trade in refrigerant gasses (F-gases). This has resulted in the seizure of nearly 800 tonnes of illegal F-gases.

The gases used in refrigeration equipment are often hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which replaced ozone-depleting substances. Whilst HFCs do not diminish the ozone layer, they are potent greenhouse gasses, which can lead to global warming.

To address this issue, the EU adopted a regulation in 2014 to reduce the amount of HFCs in the marketplace. Criminal networks created an illicit market for these gases in their bid to bypass the regulation.

OLAF supports cross-border investigations and works closely with national and international authorities passing on information and intelligence on suspicious shipments and operators.

Continue reading the case on preventing the illegal trade of F-gases

Tobacco smuggling and counterfeiting

One feature of OLAF’s work is the continuing battle against cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting.

In 2023, OLAF’s operations led to seizures of over 616 million illicit cigarettes worldwide, including 333 million cigarettes confiscated at the EU's external borders.

OLAF also helped seize 140 tons of raw tobacco and 6 tons of water pipe tobacco, preventing losses of over €151 million to the EU and national budgets.

Additionally, tip offs from OLAF resulted in the confiscation of 144.34 million cigarettes and 40 tonnes of raw tobacco from outside the EU.

Read more about OLAF's work against tobacco smuggling in 2023

Origin fraud – E bikes

One case closed in 2023 concerned OLAF working closely with the European Prosecutors’ Office (EPPO) to expose a €4 million suspected origin fraud that had seen 17,000 e-bikes fraudulently exported from Türkiye to Italy.

OLAF's involvement in this case started following an EPPO criminal investigation into suspicions of fraud carried out by a Turkish exporter of e-bikes.

Continue reading the case on E-bikes

OLAF a leader in the fight against sanction circumvention

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the EU adopted several sanction packages against Russia and its ally Belarus to target their economies and reduce the money they can spend on their unjust war against Ukraine.

From March 2022 to the end of 2023, the EU implemented 12 sanction packages against these two countries, which included import and export bans on a number of goods.

OLAF works in several ways to help enforce these sanctions, either by direct enquiries of potential breaches or by cooperating with partners in the EU and beyond to share knowledge and create a collaborative approach to defending the packages, and consequently, Ukraine itself.

OLAF monitors trade flows, performs analytical work to detect possible fraudulent circumvention of import/export sanctions, identifies suspicious operators and maps routes possibly used to try to evade trade restrictions.

Continue reading how OLAF contributes to the fight against sanctions circumvention

EU funds


OLAF investigated – and confirmed, allegations that two companies implementing projects funded from 7th EU Framework Programme for Research and Horizon 2020 programmes did not have the capacity to fulfil the EU projects they were assigned.

Following investigative activities, including on-the-spot checks with digital forensic operations in Greece and Cyprus, OLAF discovered a long list of irregularities carried out by the companies. These included the creation of kickback schemes, fictitious costs and breaches in grant conditions.

Continue reading the case on research projects

EU staff investigations

OLAF has a unique mandate to carry out internal investigations into the EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies in order to fight fraud and corruption.

Abuse of diplomatic privileges

In 2023, OLAF completed an investigation concerning serious professional misconduct mainly related to unauthorised external activities and abuse of diplomatic privileges by staff members of an EU Delegation and a Regional Office in a country in South East Asia.

The investigation established that these staff members were actively involved in a scheme to evade VAT and excise taxes at import in this third country. Alcohol and cigars were ordered, using the name of the EU Delegation and subsequently passed on to several persons external to the Delegation. This practice breached the applicable rules and procedures on placing orders for diplomatic goods and gave undue benefits to persons who did not qualify for diplomatic privileges.

Continue reading the case on the abuse of diplomatic privileges