Tuesday

23rd May 2017

EU anti-fraud office ditches Martin Schulz probe

  • Schulz in 2014 aimed to become the president of the EU commission. (Photo: Parti Socialiste)

The EU's anti-fraud office has dropped a probe into former European Parliament chief Martin Schulz.

Schulz, who is challenging Angela Merkel to become the next German chancellor, had faced allegations of irregularities during his stint in office as EU parliament president.

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A spokesperson at the anti-fraud office Olaf told various media outlets on Wednesday (26 April) that it had ended its inquiries after finding no irregularities or fraud.

Schulz had reigned over the EU parliament from 2012 until earlier this year when he launched a bid to become Germany's chancellor after being crowned leader of the German Social-Democratic Party (SPD) in March.

He was accused while president of the EU parliament of using his assistants to perform certain tasks in violation of parliament rules.

Such allegations first surfaced in 2014 when was accused of blurring his role as EU parliament chief in his effort to become the next European Commission president during the so-called "Spitzenkandidat" process - where each European party has a lead candidate.

A 2016 report from the EU parliament found it "difficult to differentiate fully" Schulz's political activities from his preparation as "Spitzenkandidat" to head the Socialists political group in the 2014 European elections.

It also noted "at least indirect use of Parliament staff" in Schulz's personal campaign efforts.

His spokesman at the time Armin Machmir said Schulz had provided a detailed list of his "travels and activities in full transparency, clearly differentiating Parliament activities from campaign activities".

But Der Spiegel reported earlier this year that Schulz's campaign manager for his bid to become German chancellery, Markus Engels, had been receiving an EU parliament salary while mostly working out of an office in Berlin since 2012.

Engels at the time also reportedly received a special tax-exemption status and had his travel expenses covered given that his contractual place of employment was Brussels.

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