Former Member of the European Parliament jailed for fraud following OLAF investigation
OLAF /09/17 Brussels, 12 November 2009
At Southwark Crown Court in London a former Member of the European Parliament (MEP) was sentenced yesterday to two years’ imprisonment for fraud. This follows investigations by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and Bedfordshire Police in the UK. The former MEP was a UK MEP from 2004 to 2009. He is the first MEP to be convicted for misuse of EU funds while exercising his mandate.
OLAF Director-General Franz-Hermann Brüner stated: "OLAF welcomes this decision. Our task is the protection of the financial interests of the EU. We fulfil our duties with no regard to the political, hierarchical or national background of the suspects. What counts for us are facts." He added: "I would also like to acknowledge the efficiency with which the UK law enforcement authorities acted on the information provided by OLAF. The importance the UK authorities have given to our common task of fighting against fraud affecting the EU Institutions is exemplary. This case has highlighted the benefit of close cooperation between OLAF and the national authorities".
The former MEP pleaded guilty to a number of counts of false accounting totalling £39,000 (€45,000). While an MEP, he had claimed £3,000 per month of Parliamentary secretarial assistance allowance while he paid his assistant only £500 per month. He used the balance for his personal benefit, including buying a car and paying off credit-card debts.
In sentencing the former MEP the judge directed that he pay £30,000 (€33,000) towards prosecution costs. In addition, the judge commended OLAF for the part it played in bringing the former MEP to justice.