- (Photo: Commission)
Eurostat is the statistical office of the EU Commission. It has been alleged that senior officials within Eurostat channelled millions of euros into unofficial bank accounts, away from budgetary controls.
It is alleged that Eurostat officials
proposed fake sums of money to be used for contracts and then spent
leftover money as they pleased - this practice was used only with certain
In 1999, when this originally came to light, senior Eurostat officials asked that this practice be stopped. However, this instruction was delivered orally and with no systematic following-up or monitoring.
The Hamburg-based magazine Stern claims that Eurostat concluded so-called "fictitious contracts" with private companies in 2000 and 2001.
- The Commission, headed by Romano Prodi, took control in 1999, promising 'zero-tolerance' of fraud and mismanagement.
- The Eurostat allegations have cast doubt over whether the Prodi Commission took the necessary steps to prevent corruption and fraud. However, the Prodi Commission insistsed that it "could not act before as [it] did not know" - although fraud has been ongoing for over 3 years.
- However, a letter dated 1 January 2002 obtained by Stern magazine apparently shows the vice-President of the Prodi Commission Neil Kinnock referring to an investigation into the affairs of one of the sub-contractors involved in the alleged fraud at Eurostat, indicating that he may have been aware of the fraud earlier than he publicly claimed.