‘No wonder Brexit happened!’ Fury as EU anti-fraud squad spends £600k on promotional tat

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The European Anti-Fraud Office is planning on spending more than £600,000 on branded tat, including oven gloves, aprons, magnifying glasses and pens. Official tender documents, seen by Express.co.uk, reveal the amount the body is willing to spend on “promotional material”. The eye-watering amount of cash will also be spent on “100 percent woven silk ties”, face masks, and military-style high-visibility jackets.

The items will be worn by Olaf officials on their fraud-fighting missions, according to the body.

German MEP Gunnar Beck said: “For a body that’s supposed to investigate fraud in EU spending, you’d expect them to treat taxpayers’ money with much more respect.

“It’s one thing to need new office supplies, but to put out a tender to purchase branded oven gloves, kitchen aprons and bronze medals for staff is completely outrageous and a flagrant waste of people’s money.

“I strongly urge them to withdraw the tender.

“Is it any wonder Brexit happened and Euroscepticism is on the rise across Europe when Eurocrats squander money in this way.”

Investigators from Olaf, the EU anti-fraud office, are meant to keep a watchful eye over the bloc’s expenditure and business.

In the past it has probed padded contracts at EU agencies and fraudulent claims for EU cash.

It issues an annual report on the misuse of Brussels funds and has recently been monitoring markets for fake coronavirus vaccines.

While not illicit, Olaf’s tender for the purchase of promotional tat will likely fuel questions over motives.

Much of the cash will be spent on more bougie gifts to be handed out by fraud-fighting eurocrats.

The high-ticket items being bought by Olaf are crystal paperweights, magnifying glasses with “Lightweight and comfortable ergonomic wooden handles” and bronze medals.

It is expected that these will be given to retiring staff members to commemorate their service to Olaf and the EU.

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The Olaf tender document demands that the items must be “quality” when delivered by the eventual winner.

Up to 17 different promotional items will be purchased by Olaf when the tender is eventually decided.

“Tenderer should submit proof that proposed items and their packaging come by default from environmentally friendly sources or manufacturing cycle,” the memo adds.

“The products must comply with environment-friendly norms, in their overall production and distribution cycle.”

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An Olaf spokesman said: “In terms of what this expenditure by OLAF covers, it is important to stress that the vast majority is on items essential for the day-to-day work of OLAF investigators. These are mainly vests and armbands worn by OLAF staff during on-the-spot checks, joint customs operations, etc, as is the standard procedure for all investigators from international or Member State police, customs and other authorities. The current tender also adds FFP2 masks as essential items for OLAF investigators to use in the course of their work.

“Other items may be included in the tender documentation as examples of the products that may be purchased under the terms of the contract, and that Commission serves may consider necessary to support their work over the next four years. As a result, this list of items is extensive, based as it is on future possibilities; there is no obligation on any Commission service to buy any of the items, or spend any of the money.

“Finally, it is also important to stress that one of the key roles of OLAF is working together with anti-fraud bodies across the world not only on tackling fraud but also on developing fraud prevention strategies. As with the rest of the Commission, we also have a duty to raise awareness of our work among European taxpayers whose money we are responsible for protecting. Both these cases can, and do, involve the limited use of OLAF-branded items purchased under this contract.”

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