The FCS of Russia and European Antifraud Office (OLAF) are changing over to an automatic mode of data interchange

The representatives of the Federal Customs Service of Russia and the European Antifraud Office had a regular meeting on November 17th, 2005. The Russian side was represented by Igor Myasoedov, Deputy Head of the Administration of Customs Cooperation; Pyotr Baklakov, Deputy Head of the Main Administration for the Organization of Customs Control; Alexander Hotko, the First Deputy Director of the Main Scientific Information Computation Center of the FCS of Russia (GNIVTs); and also a number of heads of divisions and executives of the Russian Customs Agency. OLAF was represented at the meeting by heads of departments of OLAF Msrs. H.Sonnberger and E.Sperber, and technical experts.

I.Myasoedov stressed the importance of the meeting at its opening, in view of putting into operation the automatic mode of the Data Interchange System (SVOI) between the FCS of Russia and the European Antifraud Office. He drew attention to the unique character of the project, both for the Russian Customs Agency and for the European Union.

Alexander Hotko made a presentation on behalf of the Russian side of SVOI. He recalled that the project was started in July 2000 by concluding the Administrative agreement, between the then State Customs Committee of Russia (GTK) and OLAF, on setting up the Data Interchange System for high-risk products imported into the Russian Federation from the countries of the European Union. In view of the results of the first years of operation of SVOI in manual mode, which required the direct involvement of operators in the receipt, analysis and verification of the data requested, the parties have already concluded that the proven system needs to be transformed into an automated system.

The First Deputy Director of the Main Scientific Information Computation Center (GNIVTs) of the FCS of Russia said that in the last two years much had been done in providing for the creation of a fundamentally new system on the basis of two independent software products, written accordingly by specialists at the Russian Customs Agency and specialists from OLAF on the basis of state of the art information technology (IT). Unorthodox software on the Russian side of the project made it possible not only to apply up-to-date international standards of data transmission and processing, but also to remove a number of deficiencies specific to the manually operated data interchange system. In particular, the system started to operate in automated mode in real time. An operator’s involvement in the operation of the system during data processing is no higher than 10%. Alexander Hotko described the setting up of SVOI, the automated Data Interchange System, as “a step forward in the development of customs technology quality”.

In his turn, H.Sonnberger spoke highly of the efforts of the Russian colleagues in realizing bilateral agreements. He acknowledged that the project was a new sphere in the activity of the two parties: the FCS of Russia and OLAF. The experience of this cooperation should be spread to other countries with which the European Union is developing cooperation in the field of information.

K.Flokas, Technical Manager of OLAF, shared information with the audience regarding implementation of the European part of SVOI, pointing out a number of specific characteristics of the software produced by OLAF.

It was noted at the meeting that the period of testing of the automated Data Interchange System had been completed. However, E.Sperber of the European Antifraud Office requested that the two systems (manual and automated) be operated in parallel over the next several months, and only then should the redundant regime within the bilateral project be removed.

During the meeting today, the specialists of the FCS of Russia and OLAF participated in setting into operation the automated Data Interchange System on a continuous basis, arranged in the form of a video-conference.

As a result of the meeting the parties signed a revised Appendix to the Requirements Specifications of electronic data interchange within the framework of the SVOI between the customs authorities of the FCS of Russia and OLAF. This document specifies the direction of further modernization of the system.
The expert specialists from the FCS of Russia and from OLAF have also discussed the issue of expanding the list of goods and contents of data to be provided by OLAF to the Russian Customs Agency. Pyotr Baklakov, Deputy Head of the Main Administration of Organization of Customs Control, elaborated on the attitude of the Russian party to these issues.
The European Antifraud Office (OLAF - Office de Lutte Antifraude (EU-French)) was founded by the institutes of the European Union (EU) in June 1999 to investigate scandal related to corrupt practices among the commissioners of Eurocommission (EC), and also the facts of lobbying for the economic interests of certain countries by representatives of the ЕC.

OLAF has independent status. The competence of the Office includes initiating investigations in relation to unlawful activities which may endanger the interests of the European Union. Audits and financial verifications may be conducted in the administrative authorities of the EU, in member-countries of the European Union and in countries which are not members of the EU.