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Director of Malta-based EU agency under investigation by anti-fraud office

Head of Malta-based refugee agency José Carreira is being investigated over alleged irregularities in procurement procedures, human resources and data protection

José Carreira

The executive director of EASO – the Malta-based EU asylum agency –  is under investigation for alleged misconduct in procurement procedures, irregularities in management of human resources and possible breaches of data protection.

Online newspaper Politico revealed that José Carreira is being investigated by the EU’s anti-fraud office, OLAF, and the probe concerns “suspicions of misconduct by the executive director of EASO (European Asylum Support Office).”

According to a leaked document, the investigation is taking place “at least — but not exclusively — in the framework of the EU support in response to the refugee crisis in Greece.”

Soon after taking office in 2016, Carreira announced plans to increase the agency’s workforce to 500 and said the support of the Maltese government was vital in terms of improving the infrastructure on the island, where EASO planned to expand its Marsa offices, and in terms of implementation at European level.

“The proposed new EASO regulation will effectively convert EASO into an official EU agency, meaning that it will have further operational capacities,” Carreira said in July 2016, explaining that the workforce would rise from 100 to 500 people.

A spokesperson for EASO told Politico that OLAF investigators had visited the agency on 9 October and again last week.

“In keeping with its policy of full transparency, EASO cooperated fully with the OLAF team, offering any assistance it could provide. OLAF visits to EU agencies, institutions and entities are a normal practice of good governance aimed at safeguarding the public interest and public funds. It should be emphasized that such a visit does not necessarily imply any malpractice,” said the spokesperson, adding: “For obvious reasons, EASO cannot comment on the individual case.”

The agency did not provide a response from Carreira himself to the allegations.

Politico also reported that a spokesperson for OLAF confirmed that the anti-fraud agency had opened an investigation “into suspicions of irregularities occurring at the European Asylum Support Office.”

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