Posts Tagged ‘European Anti-fraud Office’

Corruption is in the genes of the EU

October 20, 2013

In the developing world venality is often a matter of survival. In Europe venal behaviour is a matter of choice. The EU bureaucracy in Brussels has corruption in its genes and tax-payer’s money running through its veins. It is remarkable that so many ostensibly democratic countries (at least in name) have so easily surrendered their powers to a bloated and corrupt group in Brussels.

It is not Best in Class that applies. The Least Common Factor applies in Europe. Brussels is as corrupt and as wasteful and as inefficient as the worst country in Europe. In this case the corruption and the condoning of corruption in Brussels is as bad as in Greece. And corruption in Greece was not a small contributor to their financial problems.

Der Spiegel writes:

Anti-corruption officials in Brussels have failed to investigate reports of squandered EU funds at a training institute in Greece, a German paper reported Friday. Well-connected teachers were allegedly paid up to €610 per hour for up to 225 work hours per month.

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has reportedly ignored repeated tip-offs about squandered European Union funds in Greece, according to an article in the Friday edition of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The German daily reports that a Greek civil servant uncovered multiple cases of nepotism and vastly inflated salaries while inspecting the finances of a vocational training institute. Officials in Brussels have apparently not acted on any of the whistleblower’s suspicions, which he communicated in several letters, the paper added.

According to the newspaper report, Giorgos Boutos, a government finance official in Athens, began auditing the books of the Organization for Vocation Education and Training (OEEK) in 2006. The institute receives and distributes EU funds earmarked for vocational training in Greece. Boutros repeatedly stumbled upon irregularities and documented the cases in numerous letters to OLAF.

…. The case involves at least €6 million ($8.2 million). It’s not an excessive sum of money, but it is well documented. Boutos was able to substantiate the irregularities in his letters to the EU with contracts, hotel bills and bank statements. He reportedly found that 75 percent of the misappropriated money had come from the EU.

The details provided by the Süddeutsche Zeitung are sure to raise eyebrows. Some of the instructors are said to have been paid for up to 225 hours per month, even during periods when they were abroad. Hourly wages for teachers were reportedly as high as €610. The alleged corruption was compounded by apparent instances of nepotism: The son of a cabinet member taught a course on silver-plating watches, the wife of a Socialist politician led classes on both dentistry and geography, and relatives of the institute’s leader held jobs there.

….. It wasn’t until seven months — and several more inquiries — later that Boutos received fresh news about the case. Still, that letter merely stated that OLAF was in the process of “a comprehensive reorganization,” and asked him to be patient. 

Meanwhile, Boutos told the newspaper, many similar cases of misspent EU funds now fall under the statute of limitations because the EU took too long to address them. Exactly €516,000 of misappropriated EU funds have been repaid. But Boutros stressed that the EU could demand that all such funds be paid back — that is, if it really wanted to.

Boutos also questioned whether investigations had been delayed because some suspected fraud cases involved relatives of government and party officials — or whether Brussels even cared at all about such instances.

Snuff case is just the tip of the EU corruption iceberg

October 17, 2012

Over the last 30+ years of doing business around the world the one certain indicator for me that corruption is rife and that a bribe is being solicited is when unforeseen delays occur in a permitting or licencing process and/or  when an “approval” is conditional or restricted. Politicians and bureaucrats everywhere use the bidding, procurement and regulatory machinery as their opportunity to line their pockets. And the appearance of sand in bureaucratic machinery is a sure sign that a politician or a bureaucrat is available to remove the sand or to oil the machinery – for a consideration.

The EU is probably the most sophisticated and successful corruptocracy in the world.

Yahoo (Reuters) reports on the latest case of EU corruption to come to light:

 The European Union’s top health official resigned on Tuesday after an anti-fraud investigation connected him to an attempt to influence EU tobacco legislation, the European Commission said.

The EU’s anti-fraud office OLAF found that a Maltese businessman had tried to use his contacts withCommissioner John Dalli, who is Maltese, for financial gain by offering to influence future EU legislation on tobacco products.

“The OLAF report did not find any conclusive evidence of the direct participation of Mr Dalli but did consider that he was aware of these events,” the Commission said in a statement, saying that Dalli had resigned with immediate effect.

Dalli has rejected the OLAF’s findings, the statement said. 

The statement said it was up to Maltese judicial authorities to decide if they wanted to pursue the case.

The OLAF investigation followed a complaint by snuff-and- cigar-maker Swedish Match in May 2012, saying that the businessman – who was not named – sought financial advantages in return for influencing Commission proposals, particularly on the EU’s current export ban on snus, a Swedish-style moist snuff.

“It’s unpleasant that these things happen. We can only hope that the process going forward to create a new directive is transparent and honest,” Swedish Match spokesman Fredrik Peyron said.

“We don’t know all the details that have emerged in this report. But if he has been involved in this it is reasonable (that Dalli resign).”

Snus, which is Swedish Match’s main cash cow, is banned in the EU for health reasons, except in Sweden which negotiated a permanent exemption in its EU accession talks in the 1990s.

Swedish Match hopes the European Commission will lift its ban on snus, which is put under the lip, mostly in pouches. The Swedish government has been pushing for a lifting of the ban, saying the health risks are not proportionate to the ban.

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