In the course of external investigations, OLAF has the power to conduct on-site controls and inspections in accordance with Article 3 (2) of Regulation (EU, EURATOM) No. 883/2013. As a preliminary remark, it is important that the management appears to remain calm, because an on-site OLAF search places immense stress on staff. In particular, the management should observe the following rules of conduct:

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OLAF operates in cases of fraud, corruption and offences affecting the financial interests of the EU. OLAF’s power to investigate is not limited to investigation internal to the EU institutions and bodies, but it can also conduct external investigations. Such external investigations are administrative in nature and serve to detect fraud or other offences committed by natural or legal persons.

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The hot-off-the-press JUVE Handbook of Business Law Firms 2020/2021 recommends BLOMSTEIN in all our practice areas: Public procurement, antitrust & competition and international trade law. All four BLOMSTEIN partners are listed in their respective fields and are recommended by clients as “best in class”.

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The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF, abbreviation for Office Européen de Lutte Anti-Fraude) is an office established by the European Commission. It is currently attached to the Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union. However, OLAF is completely independent in the way it exercises its investigative mandate. The current head of OLAF is Director General Ville Itälä. The organisation is divided into four directorates.

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Misuse of the EU budget and evasion of taxes, duties and levies has increased significantly in recent years. This should be prevented to protect the EU-taxpayer. The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) was established to investigate fraud, corruption and other criminal acts affecting the EU’s financial interests. For this purpose, it can conduct investigations both inside and outside the EU institutions and bodies. In its final investigation report, OLAF makes recommendations to the European institutions or to the competent national authorities of the EU Member States as to whether legal, financial, disciplinary or administrative measures should be taken.

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In case you are interested in the Inter-American Development Bank’s policies on sanctions and debarments, please join us in a webinar on 27 November. The webinar is being organized by PUC-RIO together with BMA and BLOMSTEIN. We are very happy that IDB’s Juan Ronderos will be joining us.

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Margrethe Vestager, EU commissioner for competition policy, recently issued a stern public warning to car manufacturers. The European Commission is currently investigating the companies for their role in Germany’s infamous car emissions scandal. Businesses that intend to cooperate in the area of cybersecurity would do well to reflect on the commissioner’s warning as well. Cars and IT? At first glance, few parallels come to mind between the traditional automotive sector and the relatively new field of cybersecurity. Yet both areas face disruptive technological challenges that companies can only overcome together. The cautionary tale of the German carmakers offers vital antitrust lessons for technical cooperation far beyond the confines of the automotive industry.

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The subject of cybersecurity has gained in importance within Germany and the European Union. There is a growing need to protect the digital market, and players’ IT systems therein, against cybersecurity threats. In the last two years, 68% of enterprises have registered cybersecurity attacks against them. According to the President of the German Federal Office for Information Security (Bundesamt für Informationstechnologie or BSI), the number of malware programs that we currently know of in Germany (roughly 800 million) grows each day by 390,000. Consequently, European and German legislators have taken measures in order to strengthen cybersecurity, thereby imposing a multitude of new obligations on EU Member States and enterprises. This briefing aims to provide an overview of the most relevant cybersecurity legislation and the requirements affected parties must meet.

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On 17 November 2020, Portolano Cavallo is hosting a webinar about the ongoing review of the EU rules on vertical restraints. BLOMSTEIN partner Anna Huttenlauch will be one of the panellists together with distinguished colleagues Enzo Marasá and Irene Picciano from Portolano Cavallo and Marco Plankensteiner from Kramer Levin. The webinar will also examine vertical enforcement in the key jurisdictions Italy, France and Germany.

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Digital information and online communication are becoming more and more important. As a result, people are increasingly aiming to protect their IT systems against attacks. Cybersecurity considerations play a special role in governmental restrictions on foreign direct investments (FDI) to protect against foreign interference in key infrastructure or security-related sectors. In Germany, this has led to increased scrutiny of M&A transactions by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (FMEA) – not limited to companies active in key areas of software development or IT security.

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