Monday

25th Oct 2021

Eurostat officials transferred due to fraud probe

Two high-ranking officials in Eurostat, the EU statistical office, Yves Franchet, its long-serving director-general, and Daniel Byk, director of one of Eurostat's six departments, have been temporarily removed from their post after allegations of fraud involving the two men have come into the open.

"This is not a disciplinary measure", Commission spokesperson Reijo Kemppinen insisted. "The Commission accepted [their request to be removed from their posts] because we want to give them a chance to defend themselves against all allegations".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

Both persons have now been temporarily appointed to Advisor functions in the Directorate-General for Administration.

Various firms involved

Files that Olaf, the EU's anti-fraud office, have passed on to French authorities last March allegedly reveal that the two men are suspected of setting up an account at a Luxembourg savings bank that was used to station up to 900,000 euro in funds - money that should have gone to Eurostat instead.

But this is not the only case in which Mr Franchet is involved. Olaf is also probing into four companies - all of which Yves Franchet has allegedly founded, EUobserver has learnt.

These are CESD-Communautaire, Deba, Eurocost and TES, where the director is married to a directress in Eurostat.

Austrian Socialist MEP Herbert Bösch, who drafted the 2001 report on the Protection of financial interests and the fight against fraud in the EU, had called on the Commission to state whether the Luxembourg-based firm Eurocost is implicated in serious irregularities which has left the Community budget facing a loss of more than 1 million euro.

Eurocost, which is now bankrupt, owes money to the Commission which might be difficult to recover.

Six Eurostat investigations

Olaf has opened a total of six investigations, two of which have been closed and handed over to the Luxembourg prosecuting authorities July last year. These cases concern possible fraud regarding contracts concluded between Eurostat and private companies, which could result into criminal proceedings.

Was Schreyer aware?

The Commission has asked the Directorate General for Budget to analyse the audit reports drafted by Eurostat related to the on-going investigation by Olaf.

But questions have been raised as to whether Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer was already in possession of these reports before the European Parliament approved the 2001 EU accounts.

The Commission said it would issue a statement on this issue as soon as possible.

Commission spokesperson Mr Kemppinen said that Olaf intends to report back on the potential involvement of Commission officials in the on-going investigation by the end of June this year.

But when contacted, Olaf declined to comment on the on-going investigation.

Eurostat: Commission fails to take action

The Commission is failing to take any action over the fraud cases surrounding the EU statistical office Eurostat, and still has ongoing contracts with a French consultancy firm Planistat, suspected of involvement in vast looting of EU funds.

MEPs to declare EU an LGBTI 'freedom zone'

The symbolic move is an attempt to buttress against right-wing governments' increased scapegoating of LGBTI people, particularly in Poland and Hungary.

Analysis

Relief in EPP group, as Orbán's party finally leaves

The debate over Fidesz had become an unbearable political burden on EPP - but it also represented a core dilemma for many centre-right, mainstream parties struggling to deal with their populist challengers.

News in Brief

  1. Timmermans cancels Moscow visit ahead of COP26
  2. Report: EU to open new mission in Kabul
  3. Bulgaria and Romania run out of beds for Covid-patients
  4. Afghanistan 'on brink of collapse', Sweden warns
  5. Far-right vigilantes stopped on Polish-German border
  6. Croatian right-wingers seek euro referendum
  7. Orbán accuses EU and US of election meddling
  8. Militants free international observers in Russia-occupied Ukraine

EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map

The European Commission has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the European Union - amid fears over more transmissible mutations triggering a new surge in cases across the bloc.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Erdoğan orders out US and EU ambassadors
  2. EU banks play 'major role' in deforestation, report finds
  3. NGOs reveal 71 'revolving-door' cases at fossil-fuel giants
  4. Energy and gender in EU focus This WEEK
  5. Nato invite sees Nordic states stepping up security cooperation
  6. Lessons for the EU in Sahel, from Afghanistan
  7. EU states want more Belarus sanctions
  8. Gas price spike exposes rift at EU summit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us