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April 3, 2004
European Parliamentarians Committing Fraud: MEP

The UK Independent reports that a Member of the European Parliament has secretly been tracking the attendance and participation of other MEPs, and has discovered that many of them falsify their records in order to collect the large per-diem fees paid when the EP is in session:

A senior member of the European parliament yesterday exposed what he claimed was widespread corruption at the Strasbourg assembly by revealing that nearly 200 of his fellow Euro MPs had faked attendance at parliamentary sessions in order to pick up generous daily allowances.

Hans-Peter Martin, an Austrian Social Democrat MEP, said he had seen scores of colleagues signing on for parliamentary sessions which they had missed, to claim a daily attendance allowance of 262 (175).

"I have witnessed almost 200 MEPs hurrying to the central register to sign on for a session and then watched them drive to the nearest airport or station," Mr Martin told Germany's Bild Zeitung newspaper. "There are countless MEPs who go to Strasbourg and Brussels simply to pick up the 262. They have told me so themselves."

According to today's currency exchange rates, 262 equates to $323.85, just for showing up each day -- and that is just their allowance, not their salary. Martin refused to name specific MEPs, but did note that 57 of Germany's 102 MEPs conducted themselves problematically. He claims to have documented over 7,000 abuses, which would total to over $2.3 million in fraudulent payments to European parliamentarians.

Needless to say, other members of the EP aren't very happy with Martin. The spokesman for the EP president challenged Martin to make his evidence public. However, that notion may be a particularly frightening one for those people Martin may name, and especially embarassing for a German government that has been trying to push a program of national belt-tightening. Martin's experience as an investigative reporter for Der Spiegel gives him a significant amount of credibility, and also the ability to lay out a potentially impressive case, given the chance.

One other reaction is particularly telling: the Socialists have suspended Martin from its caucus in the EP. If nothing else, it indicates how strongly the EU have become tied to the Socialists and their ideology, and how strongly that relationship has tied corruption to the Socialists. (via The Corner)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 3, 2004 7:08 PM

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