EC in hunt for accountants

The European Commission is set to launch a major recruitment drive for accountants in its first public recognition that practitioners are urgently needed to prevent a repeat of the allegations of sleaze and financial mismanagement that have rocked Brussels this year.

An open competition will be held throughout Europe before the end of year. The move is expected to be backed by today’s second committee of independent experts fraud report. It will highlight Brussels’ failure to be more accountable and deal with whistleblowers.

British representative in the court of auditors John Wiggins said accountants were needed to help the process, but warned an underlying change in culture was as important.

‘The report will be another sharp blow for the Commission, with the accountancy profession insisting once again that the Commission needs to be more accountable,’ he said.

The report has been written with the assistance of internal auditor Paul van Buitenen whose allegations of fraud and mismanagement contributed to March’s resignation of all 20 commissioners.

Addressing MEPs this week, new Commission vice-president Neil Kinnock said auditors who discover financial mismanagement should pass on information to the new independent fraud unit, OLAF.

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