Belgian authorities must investigate MEP corruption

5 April 2011

European parliamentarian and NGO ask for swift enquiry

Brussels, April 5 2011 - Belgian Green MEP Bart Staes and Friends of the Earth Europe are calling on the Belgian public prosecutor, Johan Delmulle, to start an official investigation into allegations of corruption in the European Parliament. [1]Four members of the European Parliament were allegedly willing to accept money from lobby groups in return for filing amendments to legal proposals under the consideration of the Parliament. These allegations were published in the Sunday Times newspaper on March 20 and March 27.

Bart Staes and Friends of the Earth Europe are calling on the Belgian prosecutor to investigate. One of the responsibilities of the Belgian federal prosecutor is to facilitate international cooperation and to act as the central point of contact for international institutions such as the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). [2]

OLAF is already carrying out an investigation into this matter but it will rely on other institutions to apply sanctions in case of corruption. The European Parliament said last week that OLAF is allowed to investigate the cases but that it would require a mandate from a national judicial authority.

Paul de Clerck of Friends of the Earth Europe noted: "The four parliamentarians seem to be involved in corruption, which is a serious crime. This should be investigated swiftly and thoroughly and if they are found guilty there should be strong penalties. The Belgian government is best placed to ensure that all four MEPs are treated the same."

Bart Staes, Green member of the European Parliament, added: "With the European institutions based in Brussels, Belgium has a special responsibility to assure that these cases are investigated. As member of the Parliament, I find it crucial that the reputation of the Parliament is upheld."

 

Notes to editors:

[1] Read the letter from Friends of the Earth Europe and Bart Staes MEP to Federal Prosecutor of the Belgian Government, Johan Delmulle here.

[2] A circular from the Belgium College des procureurs generaux decided that the federal prosecutor was to be the central point of contact for international institutions such as OLAF. As a result, all complaints coming from OLAF addressed to the Belgian judicial authorities go through the office of the federal prosecutor, who decides whether to handle them or to refer them to the prosecutor with territorial jurisdiction, depending on their nature. See: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/59/8/35461651.pdf page 21