Eurocrat benefit fraud probe ends in extra payout
From time to time the ‘Monster feels moved to cast off its satirical typing mittens [patent pending] and plunge its delicate talons into the foetid world of ‘fact’. The ensuing will make you do one, some, or all of the following:
– Chuckle – Tut – Fulminate – Seek a cushy EU job on an Italian lakeside and then fall over.
14 EU fonctionnaires investigated for suspected injury benefit fraud have been awarded an extra 3000 euros each from the taxpayer, after it transpired the EU’s fraud watchdog failed to tell the accident-prone civil servants that they were to face criminal proceedings in Italy.
The ruling is the culmination of investigations dating back to 2002 into suspected widespread benefit plundering at the EU’s Joint Research Centre, based out of the Italian town of Ispra on the shore of Lake Maggiore.
In an initial 2002 audit, 230 JRC eurocrats – one fifth of the total headcount there – were found to be claiming a permanent partial invalidity.
5.7 million euros were disbursed to the accident-prone staff between 1996 and 2002. On average this worked out at around 25 000 euros each. But many gleaned much more.
The audit discovered 46 members of staff collected 35 000 euros on average, 23 more than 50 000, eight claimed more than 80 000 and one or two cashed in almost 300 000 euros from the injury benefit system accorded to those on the European Commission’s payroll.
76 of the 230 even had the misfortune to suffer a second accident, increasing their claims. But 42 of them … 42 …
42 members of staff out of little over 1000 …
declared AT LEAST NINE ACCIDENTS EACH between January 1986 and July 2003.
But on referring the case to the Italian judiciary to conduct an investigation under local penal law, OLAF neglected to inform the mishap-ridden fonctionnaires.
That, the EU’s court for civil service employment disputes ruled last week, was in breach of their rights of defence, and awarded the 14 who brought a complaint 3000 euros each in damages.
[*puts mittens back on, taking care not to snag the wool on one’s claws*]