31 MAR 2011
By Andrew Willis
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek has let the EU's anti-fraud office (Olaf) conduct an investigation into the Sunday Times cash-for-amendments scandal. But he continues to deny access to MEPs' offices.
Buzek last week told Olaf to stick to matters related to misspent EU funds.
But on Wednesday evening (30 March) parliament's secretary general, Klaus Welle, personally handed over a letter from Buzek to his counterpart in Olaf, informing him of a change of heart in the case of four deputies who allegedly intriduced legislative changes in return for promises of money.
"I have analysed the situation in depth and decided to allow the administrative investigation," the letter says.
The EP chief added that Olaf has no right to search offices however, saying MEPs must first be stripped of their immunity and that national authorities in Austria and Slovenia should step in to handle criminal proceedings.
"If Olaf wishes to start an investigation, then it evidently has to conduct it as an administrative, and not a criminal, investigation and act in full respect of the immunity of a member [of the parliament]," the letter says. "In the context of the administrative investigation, I can not allow Olaf to enter into the MEPs offices."
"I highlight the fact that the EP is ready to fully co-operate with relevant national authorities, including full access to the MEPs offices and computers once the immunity is waved."
An Olaf official Buzek's position is unacceptable.
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