Sunday, 27 April 2008

Another EU whistleblower sacked for exposing corruption

The Sunday Times today reports the tale of another whistleblower facing the sack after he told fraud investigators about alleged corruption at an EU aid agency.

Terry Battersby has reportedly been removed from his job as head of information technology at the EU-funded Centre for the Development of Enterprise (CDE) after reporting that his boss may have approved the award of lucrative EU contracts to a company in which he had a financial interest.

On its website, the CDE describes itself as an ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific)/EU "joint Institution" which "operates in complementarity [sic] with the European Commission, the Secretariat of the ACP Group of States and the European Investment Bank in the framework of support to the private sector."

The organisation reportedly receives more than £14m a year of public money from the EU.

Hamid Sow, the agency's former director, is alleged to have arranged for the CDE to back a loan of nearly £3m to a textile company in Mali, without disclosing that he owned up to 20% of the company and was receiving payments from the firm.

Two years ago Battersby discovered documents showing Sow’s apparent conflict of interest, and passed them to the EU’s antifraud investigators, but found himself the victim of a "witch-hunt" for having the courage to speak out.

Standard EU practice

Battersby is the latest in a long line of whistleblowers who have found themselves vilified by EU institutions and forced out of their jobs for revealing fraud, including Dorte Schmidt-Brown, Robert McCoy, Dougal Watt and former Commission chief accountant Marta Andreasen.

In trying to defend their recent agreement to increase Britain's payments into the EU budget by 63% (while holding police, nurses and teachers' pay rises to below inflation), the government made much of a new charter they claimed had been put in place to protect fraud whistleblowers, and 'enshrined' in staff regulations back in May 2004.

That claim wasn't even believeable at the time, given no charter or regulations prevented Neil Kinnock finally sacking Marta Andreasen in 2005 in one of his last acts as an EU Commissioner.

That was before retiring to enjoy his £272,808 pay-off, his £63,900 a year EU pension and take up his seat in the House of Lords (the existence of which he used to oppose) as Baron Kinnock of Bedwelty.

With this latest revelation, the concept of a 'Whistleblowers Charter' - and yet another government claim in defence of its enthusiasm for the EU - lies in complete tatters.


Anonymous said...

Would like to know the follow up of the outcome of the corruption of Mr. Hamed Sow? Is justice been serviced and what happen to the Whistleblower now? Has the 'witch-hunt stopped?

The Democracy Movement said...

An interesting point. We'll make enquiries, but you could also question your MEP.