PracticeAccounting FirmsEC whistleblower to address MEPs

EC whistleblower to address MEPs

Former European Commission chief accountant Marta Andreasen is preparing to bring her allegations of EC fraud and mismanagement before MEPs, possibly as early as Monday next week.

Link: EC whistleblower under pressure

The influential budgetary control committee is expected to vote to invite the sacked official to provide evidence to support her allegations.

Her description of the commission’s accounting systems as risky, insecure and inadequate, and her claims that reforms planned by EC vice-president Neil Kinnock would increase the risk of error and fraud, led to her suspension. Her appearance before the committee could take place the same day.

If the vote is won, she is expected to be asked about her part in the budget reform process and her handling and treatment by EC officials. She is also expected to take the opportunity to rebut charges made about her conduct which led to her suspension.

A source close to Andreasen told Accountancy Age: ‘She is spending the next few days out of the spotlight, gathering her thoughts and evidence for her likely appearance before the committee.’

The vote has been called at the request of the centre-right Christian Democrat party, which is threatening to slash commissioners’ expenses in an effort to persuade the commission to provide substantiating evidence to back its suspension of Andreasen.

One-fifth of the commissioners’ £1.2m travel expenses for 2003 are being withheld until the MEPs are given ‘a clear answer from the commission to the points raised by the chief accountant’.

Mr Kinnock used an appearance before the same committee earlier this month to insist that breaches of staff regulations relating to confidentiality, attendance and line management were the sole reasons for Andreasen’s suspension.

In a related move, the Christian Democrats are also demanding why budget commissioner Michaele Schreyer appointed Andreasen without taking up written references.

Andreasen was suspended from her previous job as chief accountant of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, soon after she made her controversial allegations about the organisation’s finances and some of its senior officials.

Andreasen was suspended from EC in May, four months after starting work. She had refused to sign off the Commission’s 2001 accounts and later went public with her concerns, describing EC’s £62bn budget as ‘an accountant’s nightmare, riddled with mistakes and full of loopholes’.

She faces disciplinary proceedings liable to result in her dismissal after complaining about commission working methods – including allegations that the systems at the Commission made accurate record-keeping of its £62bn budget impossible – first to her superiors and later in public. The action was initiated by former UK Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock.

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