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Confusion reigns over MEP cash-for-amendments probe
Date 29/03/2011 15:48  Author webmaster  Hits 1082  Language Global
29 MAR 2011

By Andrew Willis

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European Parliament is continuing to deny EU anti-fraud investigators access to its buildings, while the office of a fourth MEP implicated in the ongoing cash-for-amendments scandal remained open on Monday (28 March).

As different authorities fight over who should lead the corruption probe, alarm has grown that incriminating data needed for a conviction could be destroyed amidst the confusion.

OLAF - the EU's anti-fraud office - has said EU treaties and legislation hand it a clear mandate to carry out an investigation, a position European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek denied in a letter to the anti-fraud body last Thursday.

The Polish politician says OLAF's job is to investigates cases of misspent EU money.

"The EU budget does not necessarilly have to be directly effected," OLAF spokesman Pavel Borkovec responded to this website.

"Clearly this is an alleged breach of rules within the EU institutions so if it's not a case for OLAF why do we have a mandate to investigate EU staff and members of the institutions?"

The squabbling relates to a recent undercover investigation by the Sunday Times, with the newspaper claiming several MEPs were willing to take money in exchange for filing legislative amendments.

Austrian centre-right euro-deputy Ernst Strasser and Slovenian Socialist Zoran Thaler have since resigned, while Romanian Socialist MEP Adrian Severin has been expelled from parliament's Socialist group but continues to act as an Independent MEP. All three have denied wrongdoing.

On Sunday the British newspaper claimed a fourth MEP had succumbed to offers of money from fake lobbyists, pointing the finger at Spanish centre-right euro-deputy Pablo Zalba

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