The Marta Andreasen and Fabra
an exclusive JUST Response report from the Dougal Watt Dossier
'Whistleblower' Robert Dougal Watt speaks out
Mr Michel HERVÉ
Mismanagement and Corruption in Europe
Further to my letter of 3 September 02:
Re: the “Marta Andreasen” case
1. The fundamental accounting control weaknesses in the European Commission’s SINCOM accounting system, brought to light in April 2002 by Ms Andreasen, the Commission’s Chief Accountant, have been known to the European Court of Auditors for several years. SINCOM is used by the Court as the basis for selecting its sample of transactions to be examined by the annual “Declaration of Assurance” audit. From this experience, and from audit work on SINCOM itself, staff of the Court have a good working knowledge of SINCOM’s problems. For years, these problems have been brought to the attention of the Members of the Court by the staff of the institution. However, the Court has not brought the serious nature of such weaknesses to the attention of the Budgetary Authority or taxpayers. In fairness, this failure to report on weaknesses which undermine the reliability of the Community’s accounts, and give unnecessary scope for fraud, need not reflect a deliberate “cover-up” by the Court. Only one of the fifteen current Members of the Court is a qualified accountant.
2. A key unanswered question with regard to SINCOM, is not “how” it is problematic – its problems are well-known to Community insiders – but “why”. Why does a system which has been so expensive to develop via out-sourced contracts not work properly?
3. In light of the above, the draconian treatment of Ms Andreasen by the Commission has no proper justification. However, the effect of removing Ms Andreasen from her post, and of suspending her from employment, is to intimidate every honourable official of the European Commission. Exactly the same tactic was used by the Commission on Mr Paul Van Buitenen. So much for, “reform”.
Re: the “Fabra Valles” case
1. The European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee has subjected Mr Kinnock, as the Commissioner responsible for the treatment of Ms Andreasen, to a public humiliation, widely reported by the media. The Commission’s actions in this affair have been examined in detail during a series of public meetings of the Committee.
2. The above treatment stands in stark contrast to the Committee’s handling of extremely grave allegations made against the European Court of Auditors, which were also presented in April 2002. Allegations of nepotism by Members of the Court, financial corruption to the benefit of Members of the Court, and systematic mismanagement by Members of the Court, have not been given public consideration by the Committee.
3. Mr Kinnock is a socialist. By contrast the Budgetary Control Committee, like the European Parliament, features a coalition Christian Democrat/Popular Party/Conservative majority. The Committee is chaired by a Christian Democrat. And it so happens that the current President of the Court of Auditors, Mr Fabra Valles, its leading Member – is a former Popular Party Member of the European Parliament. Mr Fabra Valles is also a former member of the Budgetary Control Committee.
4. Mr Fabra Valles and his fourteen colleagues have benefitted from a corrupt regime: of nepotism – he personally appointed a former associate to a post reserved for permanent staff in disregard of the institution’s normal procedures, other Members appointed friends and relatives; of financial impropriety – receiving allowances without entitlement, and turning a blind eye to the same practice in the other European institutions; and gross mismanagement – Court staff knew of SINCOM’s weaknesses, just as they knew beforehand of abuses later brought to light by Mr Van Buitenen, but the Members did not act.
R Dougal WATT
European Court of Auditors
Staff number 43062
16 September 2002
(on sick leave)
The allegations endorsed by 205 of my colleagues – regarding nepotism, financial corruption and mismanagement – are set out in my letter of 22 April; detail is provided in my five-page letter of 18 June 2002.
Note: This letter was published as a JUST Response exclusive report on September 24 2002.