|Author (Person)||Shelley, John|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.6, 8.2.01, p3|
THE EU citizens' watchdog has blasted European Commission internal market inspectors for covering up an investigation into charges that a multi-million euro construction contract was awarded illegally.
European Ombudsman Jacob Söderman says the EU executive's internal market officials misled the chairman of a construction company as to why they closed an inquiry into the contract to build the Thessaloniki Metro in Greece.
He says the Commission told company chief Emsiet Zoglou, who had also applied to do the work, that it had found no breach of internal rules when the contract was awarded to a French-led consortium.
In fact, EU officials uncovered evidence of rule-breaking and recommended that a letter be sent to warn the Greek government. But Commissioners took no action because they thought it was too late to redress the wrongdoing.
"In the letter to the complainant the Commission did not give the real reasons for the closure of the case," said Olivier Verheecke, the Ombudsman's officer investigating the case. "Exactly why the Commission really did close it we still don't know."
The Ombudsman's office, which described its two-year inquiry as the most complicated it had ever undertaken, said the Commission failed to inform the complainant that it had found evidence to back up his claim.
The officials in fact waited three months before telling him anything - during which time he had written four letters concerning additional evidence. Finally the officials informed him the investigation had been closed because there had been no infringement of community law.
"Such a conclusion is in contradiction with the college of Commissioners' decision, which shows that the Commission closed the case whilst recognising that a possible infringement did take place," said Söderman.
The EU citizens' watchdog has blasted European Commission internal market inspectors for covering up an investigation into charges that a multi-million euro construction contract was awarded illegally.
|Subject Categories||Internal Markets, Politics and International Relations|