EU committee demands release of expenses scandal report

The European Parliament’s budget control committee has demanded the release
of a closely guarded report which has detailed abuse of expenses by MEPs.

Rules of parliament allow for the report, by the assembly’s internal auditor,
to remain available to only a small group of MEPs and senior officials, who are
not allowed to share the information.

But officials who have seen the report are concerned about the way in which
expense allowances for MEPs’ support staff is being handled, and have called for
the current expenses system to be changed, Dow Jones reported.

One UK LibDem MEP said: ‘The most difficult thing to establish is whether
what is described by our own auditors is fraud or whether it’s simply a huge
exercise in creative accounting which doesn’t break the European Parliament’s

He further provided examples of what he described as ‘grossly unethical
behaviour’ – saying that in one case a parliamentarian claimed to have paid his
assistant a Christmas bonus 19 times his salary, and in other instances money
had been paid to what appeared to be fictitious service providers.

He said the European Parliament has ‘set rules which they simply wouldn’t
tolerate in any public institution’.

OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud body, has received a copy of the report but there
appears to be little additional effort to publish the report.

Parliamentary spokesman Jaume Duch Guillot said the audit did not reveal
individual cases of fraud but added that a new central recruitment system would
be in place to support MEPs after the 2009 elections.

In addition, salary disparities between MEPs of different countries will be
eliminated and MEPs will no longer be allowed to claim expenses without proper

Further reading:

Pressure on MEPs over secret expenses report

Report uncovers MEP expenses abuse

‘not accountable’ over staff expenses

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