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27th Jun 2022

Ex-EU auditor in 'abuse of assets' scandal

  • Pinxten (l) is a Belgian former politician (Photo: Wikipedia)

A former member of the European Court of Auditors is under investigation for having allegedly misspent some €500,000 of taxpayer money on travel expenses and other items.

Olaf, the EU's anti-fraud office, handed over its findings on Karel Pinxten, a Belgian national, to both the European Court of Auditors and the Grand Duchy judicial authorities on Tuesday (11 July), EUobserver has learned.

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"The Olaf investigation found abuse of the European Court of Auditors assets, as well as infringements of ethical obligations," said the Olaf press office in a statement.

It is not immediately clear what such "ethical obligations" entailed, but it may involve issues that could have compromised Pinxten's independence as court auditor.

The Luxembourg-based European Court of Auditors, which is not a court, is an independent body composed of one member from each of the 28 EU states. It is tasked to make sure the European Union's budget has been properly spent.

In an emailed statement, the court confirmed it had received the Olaf report.

"It is completely unacceptable for any public servant to abuse his or her position in order to obtain financial benefit," said the statement.

The court also added that any waste or misuse of European taxpayers' money was viewed "with grave concern", noting that it had first alerted Olaf of the allegations in October 2016.

"We are determined that the ultimate cost of this matter to the public purse will be zero and we will recover any money claimed illegally," it said.

Pinxten's efforts to secure a third term at the Court were scuppered last year, in a secret ballot, by the European Parliament's budgetary committee.

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