Marta Andreasen accountant, whistleblower, the 2003 Personality of the Year
for Accountancy Age readers and general all-round pain in the neck for
the EU has won out in the European elections to become an MEP representing
Britain for the UK Independence Party.
What do whistleblowers do when they run out of job options? They run for
election to the European Parliament. Paul van Buitenen did it and in last
weekend’s elections Andresean managed the same feat having been elected in a
hugely successful poll for the UK Independence Party.
Most people will remember Andreasen for publicising poor accounting at the EU
when she became the chief accountant in 2002.
What most people miss is that she had already caused a storm at the OECD, the
world’s taxation watchdog, after she joined in 1998. She reported that there
were serious problems with its accounting systems and was promptly suspended
from work for 15 months. A report by Arthur Andersen later concluded the systems
were inadequate and outdated.
In 2002 she was hired as chief accountant at the EU. She was so shocked by
what she found she went public. She claimed it was antiquated and open to fraud.
She refused to sign off on the 2001 accounts.
EU commissioners were apoplectic and claimed the problems were in the process
of being fixed. Andreasen was again suspended, this time for failing to show
sufficient respect and loyalty to her employer.
Her revelations caused a media furore across Europe and Accountancy
Age readers rewarded her with their Personality of the Year award for 2003.
But whistleblowers have trouble finding a role after they’ve done the deed.
Andreasen went to a tribunal over her treatment but her sacking was upheld.
Enter UKIP. Why Andreasen chose to throw in her lot in with a party
campaigning for the UK’s withdrawal from the Europe is anybody’s guess: perhaps
her run-in with the EU convinced her it should be dismantled piece by piece.
In the introduction to her recent book, Brussels Laid Bare, she writes:
‘Possibly no other case than mine has shown better how easily a bureaucracy
without any kind of external constitutional mechanism to correct or qualify its
procedures can become a tyranny.’
There remains much respect for her, even in non-political quarters. She
received sturdy support from certain regulators and fraud specialists in the UK.
Andreasen will take her seat and will no doubt spend her time railing against
inefficiency in the EU and its poor financial controls.
Even if you question UKIP’s overall aims you can’t help but agree that the EU
needs someone whose life purpose is to question the way it manages tax payers’
Will she be a successful politician? A recent appearance on BBC’s Question
Time revealed she was not the most seasoned of political animals, making a
couple of statements that could be considered naively excessive. But she will
The truth is she is at her best when talking about financial management,
accountability and transparency and there will be no end of opportunities for
that at the EU.
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