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Saturday, October 19, 2013

EU Ignores Greek Whistleblower

This is actually a very worrisome article. It reports that a Greek civil servant reported multiple cases of squandered EU funds. Officials in Brussels (European Anti-Fraud Office; or OLAF) have apparently not acted on any of the whistleblower's suspicions, which he communicated in several letters.

Giorgos Boutos, a government finance official in Athens, first sent documents about the suspected fraud to the EU in July 2010. But he heard nothing from the Greek representative at OLAF, while a letter to Director-General Giovanni Kessler went unanswered. In fact, he did not receive any response from OLAF until after he filed a complaint with the European Commission's head of cabinet. The response, however, was only a confirmation that his letter had been received and that the case had been given a file number.

It wasn't until seven months -- and several more inquiries -- later that Boutos received fresh news about the case. Still, that letter merely stated that OLAF was in the process of "a comprehensive reorganization," and asked him to be patient. 

Meanwhile, Boutos told the newspaper, many similar cases of misspent EU funds now fall under the statute of limitations because the EU took too long to address them. Exactly €516,000 of misappropriated EU funds have been repaid. But Boutros stressed that the EU could demand that all such funds be paid back -- that is, if it really wanted to. 

Boutos also questioned whether investigations had been delayed because some suspected fraud cases involved relatives of government and party officials -- or whether Brussels even cared at all about such instances. 

"I don't know whether I should cry or laugh," he told the paper.

2 comments:

  1. Worrisome of course. But tolerated and of course made full use of by every politician in the EU. And these abuses do not originate at the member state level.

    But absolutely par for the course in Bruxelles whose corruption makes Greece look like a small time amateur.

    There are endless - endless! - examples of EU / member state abuse. In every EU state. All Brussels need do is exactly what it did above: delay, delay, delay until the statute of limitations expires in every case. This way it is protects its own, since every example of mal-appointments & misuse of funds leads back to someone in the commission.

    And once we start investigating the commission, where will it end?

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  2. Yes, it's a sad story, one can only hope that Der Spiegel will follow up on it, they have the resources.
    OLAF has a good track record; however, they cannot investigate allegations of fraud and corruption which do not involve members or staff of EU institutions and bodies, that is outside their jurisdiction. such cases should be reported to the national police. OLAF has in several cases tipped of such info to the local police of other nations, with success. A short research reveals 2 major players in the case:

    THE DONOR.
    The European Commission embodied by Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou. (Monthly remuneration EUR 20.667,20 wages, EUR 607,72 entertainment allowance, EUR 3.100,08 residence allowance, and free transport).

    THE RECIPIENT.
    The (Greek) Organization for Vocational Education and Training (O.E.E.K.). That is an autonomous legal entity, with administrative and economic independence. They are under the supervision of the Greek Ministry of National Education and Religion. Closer reading reveal that they are under supervision of at least 5 mentioned ministries, it is nowhere stipulated what the rights and duties of the ministries are. the wordings are vaque and ambiguous, but give the O.E.E.K., and the related ministries great powers:
    -Determine vocational rights of all vocational and training levels, in co-operation with competent ministries and social partners (for social partners read unions),
    -Plan and carry out vocational education and training in accordance with the needs of the Greek and Europea markets.
    -Supervises and inspect Private Vocational Training institutes.
    -Recognizes and qualifies the professions which correspond to vocational education and training, provided by Vocational Training Institutes, according to the conditions and needs of the Greek and European markets.
    -Organizes the official validation and qualification system for vocational education and training.
    -Regulate the professional rights of the diploma holders of secondary and post-secondary vocational education and training for Greek nationals and foreigners.
    -Absorbs and manage all E.U. funds, participating in programs related to VET.

    I have not been able to find organization charts, neither names, contact adresses or any economical info.
    With this set-up I cannot see any "point of attack" for OLAF.
    If i was harbouring thoughts of conspiracy, I would say that this would be the perfect set-up for distribution of tickets for future closed professions. O.E.E.K. issue them, the politicians and unions sell them as they are the only contacts to O.E.E.K.
    So, while the Task Force for Greece is busy fighting closed professions, greece is busy building new systems with money "absorbed" from the Commission. No, as per their home page, the Commission do not monitor the projects, they only monitor the nations that receive funding.

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