Wednesday, July 06, 2005

EU Fraud Goes Unpunished as Whistleblowers are Sacked

In the latest chapter of the EU's continuing struggle with fraud, the denouement is depressingly familiar: the person who uncovers the fraud - in this case, the Danish accountant Dorte Schmidt-Brown - gets sacked, whilst the alleged fraudsters ("mostly French officials," as the London Telegraph helpfully observes) stay in their posts or retire on fat pensions.

The Eurostat scandal - involving the misappropriation of millions of euros, which are still unaccounted for - was publicised by the German journalist Hans-Martin Tillack. As a reward for this public service, his files were confiscated (an offence against European human rights law) after a dawn raid on his apartment by Brussels police, who were thus able to collar Tillack's source. Despite this jackbooted and repressive approach, the European Court ruled in favour of Brussels in that case, something which seems explicable only by considering that political considerations may have usurped the role normally allotted to legal ones in such matters.

The EU has form in this - Paul van Buitenen was another "whilstleblower" who lost his job after revealing financial abuse in Brussels. This time, though, even Brussels insiders, such as the ex-Commissioner Neil Kinnock, are outraged. It will be interesting to see how the Commission sweeps this one under the carpet, given the increased attention the case will now receive.

Telegraph Money Outrage grows at EU treatment of whistleblower

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