quinta-feira, setembro 25, 2003
Fraude no Eurostat
The Commission is facing mounting pressure after two reports released Wednesday night (24 September) revealed that illegal financial practices continued during it current term - leading to a loss of millions of euro of taxpayers' money.
A brief account of investigations carried out by Olaf, the EU anti-fraud office, show conflicts of interest between the EU's statistical arm, Eurostat, and the companies which received grants from Eurostat itself.
It quotes cases where financial losses due to mismanagement of funds and illegal reserves amount to millions of euro.
A summary of the Internal Audit Service report also concludes that "the Commission is ill equipped to protect itself further against the risk of collusion by third parties, where little controls, if any are in place".
CNN's Robyn Curnow says the accusations are "deeply embarrassing" for Prodi, who came to office in 1999 promising "zero tolerance" of corruption after the previous commission was forced to resign en masse over a corruption scandal.
Eurostat officials are alleged to have siphoned millions of euros in EU funds to secret bank accounts in the 1990s.
The internal audit reports, obtained by Reuters news agency before their official release, say auditors found that officials at Eurostat had set up a system that dates before 1999 under which they channeled money into financial reserves.
Allegations of irregular accounting have also been made, with some saying artificially inflated contract values were made and the difference diverted into private accounts. Some officials have said the accounts were set up simply to bypass complicated and time consuming bureaucracy.
The year 1999 is important as Prodi's Commission took office in 2000.
But the report added: "However, due to a lack of transparency, there is no evidence on whether, how and when the reserves practices were discontinued in 1999 or later."
Damian Wild, Editor at Accountancy Age, told CNN: "Eurostat is accused at worst of fraud and at best of financial malpractice.
"What people are thinking is that if these sort of public, very serious problems can happen within Eurostat, then what does that mean for the rest of the European Commission? It could be endemic."
The report is very harsh on the former head of Eurostat, Frenchman Yves Franchet, Reuters says
No Daily Telegraph:
They revealed that taxpayers' money had been used to pay for perks and freebies, including a riding club, a volleyball team, extravagant dinners, and trips to New York and the Bahamas
posted by Miguel Noronha 9:13 da manhã
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