Monday, 22 November 2004

European Superiority

One thing the European Union does more thoroughly than anyone else in the world is... Corruption.

Someone who escaped prosecution for a multi-million dollar political funding scam only because he has presidential immunity grants a pardon to someone else convicted of another multi-million dollar political funding scam - and does so in a way that even mentioning he was ever convicted is a criminal offence. And this other person naturally becomes a Euro MP.

Meanwhile, the EU Vice-President and commissioner in charge of the anti-fraud portfolio... has a conviction for giving misleading evidence in a fraud case, and had involvement in several others.

Exhibit A : From EU Referendum :
Vice-President of the EU commission, Siim Kallas, the Estonian commissioner ... was convicted in 2001 of providing false information during his trial for the theft of $10m from the Central Bank of Estonia in a oil-trading scam in 1993. He was acquitted of charges of abuse and fraud in relation to the oil deal.

Furthermore, Kallas had also appeared in court just five years earlier when he appeared as a witness following the disappearance of Russian Roubles from the Estonian Central Bank, of which he was then the president.

Unbelievably, notes UKIP, Kallas has been appointed a Vice-President of the EU Commission, and has been given the anti-fraud portfolio. Says Nigel Farage, in a refrain that is not uncommon on this Blog, "You simply could not make it up."

Exhibit B : Also from EU referendum :
Nigel Farage UKIP MEP demanded to know whether his colleagues would buy a second-hand car from Jacques Barrot. Apparently he was not referring to his appearance but the fact that
"M. Barrot had been sentenced to an 8 month suspended sentence and was barred from elected office in France for 2 years, after being convicted in 2000 of embezzling FFR 25m (US$ 3.8m) from French government funds by diverting it into the coffers of his party."
President Chirac had granted Barrot a presidential pardon, which made it illegal even to mention the conviction, so the French media obliged. Many of the French MEPs were unaware of the story.

Mr Farage was threatened with legal action by the European Parliament President, Josep Borrell, there by grace of a backroom agreement between the two main groups, and censured by other MEPs. It is not done to reveal past secrets about present Commissioners.

So, it is business as normal in the European Union. And just in case anyone is interested, here are the relevant salaries though not the expenses, which probably effectively double incomes:

Normal Commissioner: 217,280 euros (£152, 661 / $283,374)
Vice-President: 241,422 euros (£169,622 / $314,859)
President: 266,530 euros (£187,246 / $347,592).

Nice work if you can get it, and then there's the pension to follow.

From Jonathan Lockhart's Notebook :
Nigel Farage and the UKIP gang have exposed the criminal conviction for a party funding scam of the new French EU commissioner, Jacques Barrot. As Richard North reports, the fraud involved ripping off £2.5 million from French taxpayers.

But here is the rub: not only did Barrot get a presidential pardon (from an amnesty under one Jacques Chirac, who of course only escaped prosecution because of presidential immunity) but the terms of the pardon made it illegal to make any public mention of the conviction.

Hat Tip : Blithering Bunny

UPDATE: From Blithering Bunny :
Kallas had initially been convicted of a number of criminal charges, but after many years in appeal courts, and with one charge being sent back to the lower court, was finally cleared of all charges. Richard North has some details.
My thanks to Scott at Blithering Bunny for updating me in the comments. Too bad Diogenes isn't still around - his quest would have been completed. With Scott's example, I could hardly leave the article uncorrected.

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