The EU’s first anti-fraud prosecutor reflects on the challenges of tackling transnational crime

Laura Codruta Kövesi is no stranger to fighting corruption. After becoming Romania’s youngest and first woman prosecutor-general, she served as head of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate from 2013 to 2018. Her tenacity and fearlessness soon opened a new door. Kövesi now serves as the European Union’s first anti-fraud prosecutor in charge of the new European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), based in Luxembourg, which will investigate, prosecute, and bring judgment for crimes against the EU budget. These crimes can include fraud, corruption, organized crime, and cross-border value-added tax (VAT) crimes exceeding €10 million.

Previously, only national prosecutors across EU member states could tackle such criminality, but they lacked jurisdiction beyond their borders. Other institutions, such as Europol or the EU anti-fraud office OLAF, had no legal authority to act. The European Commission reports that €140 billion in VAT revenue was lost in 2018 to fraud and evasion, predicting that number to increase to €164 billion in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

Can the EPPO successfully tackle transnational crime? F&D’s Rahim Kanani interviewed Kövesi to find out.

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