Martin Schulz accused of massive fraud of EU funds

img_4157Former President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, now the candidate of the centre-left SPD in Germany to be Federal Chancellor, has been accused of massive corruption and cronyism by German weekly Der Spiegel.

In an article in todays Spiegel, Mr Schulz is accused of abusing the system during his five years as European Parliament President by ensuring fraudulent payments to his press adviser, Markus Engels, now Schulz’ campaign manager in this year’s German federal elections.

According to Der Spiegel, Engels was officially based in Brussels as part of Martin Schulz Cabinet, as evidenced by the official website of the European Parliament. However, in reality, Engels was based in the EP Information Office in Berlin. The difference is not anodyne because, according to EP financial regulations, being “based” in Brussels as opposed to Berlin means an extra 840 euro per month, due to the higher costs of living in Brussels.

But this greed was not enough for Schulz and Engels, they went further by concocting fraudulent “missions” for Engels from Brussels to Berlin which in 2012 alone earned Engels a further 16,621 Euro for his totally implausible 273 days of “official missions”, according to internal EP financial documents obtained by Der Spiegel.

By the end of Schulz five-years at the helm of the EP, the bullying megalomaniac had subborned the EP administration into what appears to be a fraudulent “open competition” so as to ensure Engels would be appointed a Head of Unit for the purpose-built “Mini Parlamentarium Unit” in Berlin.

The hypocrisy of Martin Schulz is astounding. He rails against so-called “anti-European forces” led by MEPs such as Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party or Marine LePen of Front National in France. During his presidency, he ordered official EP investigations into the staff payments of both MEPs, going further in the case of LePen by handing over her paperwork to the EU’s anti-fraud body OLAF. Ms LePen claims that this action by Schulz breached her parliamentary immunity and presumption of innocence and she is bringing a case against Schulz in the courts.

Given these shocking revelations, it is now to be seen whether OLAF will open its own investigation into the financial affairs of Martin Schulz during his five years as EP President. The newly-elected EP President, Antonio Tajani, could also order the EP services to conduct their own internal investigation, though it should be borne in mind that the Financial Director responsible for such matters is none other than Lorenzo Mannelli, who himself was parachuted into the post by Martin Schulz directly from his own Cabinet, where he had managed Schulz’ administrative and financial affairs.

Given this conflict of interest, a more transparent solution would clearly be an OLAF investigation. It is exactly the kind of corruption and cronyism referred to in today’s Spiegel that has turned more and more European citizens against the EU and pushed them into the arms of populist politicians, the kind of people that Schulz calls “anti-European”.