Thursday

27th Feb 2020

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

"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.

EU farm projects unreasonably costly, auditors say

An aid scheme to help farmers improve environmental sustainability of their farms funded programmes that could have been a much better value for money, says the Court of Auditors.

Exclusive

EU commissioner lobbied by energy firm he owns shares in

EU budget commissioner Johannes Hahn owns 2,200 shares in Austria's largest electricity provider. Those shares have tripled in value since he first declared them in 2014. In January, the firm met his head of cabinet to discuss climate policy.

EU transparency on lobbyist meetings still piecemeal

Small steps are being made to reveal who is lobbying who within the EU. But the approach is basically haphazard and piecemeal - meaning the public remains largely in the dark and unable to truly scrutinise the influencers.

'Top-down' future of Europe conference 'will fail' warning

The new president of the Committee of the Regions has warned the EU Commission that a top-down, centralised, Brussels-driven conference will fail to rebuild trust in Europe. Instead, he proposes a stronger say for local and regional authorities.

'Law of silence' reigns over EESC leaders, says staff union

The secretary-general of the European Economic and Social Committee, an EU institution, has been accused by a trade union representing staff for perpetuating a "law of silence" amid a flurry of abuse allegations against its likely future president Jacek Krawczyk.

News in Brief

  1. Surge in Latin American asylum seekers to EU
  2. EU optimistic on US trade
  3. Danish MEP worried about coronavirus in EU parliament
  4. Report: Uber and Lyft pollute more than trips they displace
  5. Budget: Merkel blames Rutte's 'childish behaviour'
  6. Parliament to staff: stay home if travelled to corona areas
  7. Ex-minister Roettgen seeks German CDU leadership
  8. Commissioner Kyriakides to meet Italy's health minister

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

MEPs gave the green light to the entire new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg - but with the abstention of the Greens and a rejection by the leftist group GUE/NGL.

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. EU critical of China on Swedish dissident publisher
  2. NGOs urge EU to tackle meat consumption 'problem'
  3. Coronavirus: voices from a quarantined Italian town
  4. EU won't accept UK trade deal 'at any price', Barnier warns
  5. Greek island riots require measured response, says EU
  6. Roll out red carpet - or recycle it? Green Deal's EU blindspot
  7. Libya is test of EU geopolitics, ex-UN inspector says
  8. No risk yet to Schengen from Italy's coronavirus outbreak

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us