The independent anti-fraud body of the EU, known by its French acronym OLAF, has confirmed that it is examining the fraud allegations against former European Parliament President Martin Schulz. The accusations, which first surfaced in the German magazine Der Spiegel, concern the misuse of EP funds and employment contracts for political purposes.
The confirmation that OLAF has finally taken action after almost two weeks of press reports, including leaked internal EP documents, was reported in Stern, another German magazine, today. OLAF Director Giovanni Kessler is reported to be personally close to Martin Schulz. A spokeswoman for OLAF confirmed to Stern that the anti-fraud body has become aware of the press reports about Schulz and his adviser throughout his five-year EP Presidency, Markus Engels, now Schulz’ campaign manager in the German elections.
She stated that OLAF was looking into these accusations so as to establish whether Mr Schulz was guilty of any corruption or illegal activity as a result of the huge sums of EU funds paid to Mr Engels. According to Stern, the accusation of fraud against Martin Schulz centres around the type of contract he arranged for Engels.
Although, Engels lived near Berlin, the EP administration was instructed by Schulz to recruit him to a position in Brussels, giving Engels a 16% top-up on his salary. Then the very next day, Schulz gave a written instruction to Engels’ boss in the EP administration to send him on “long term mission” to…Berlin, which ultimately lasted five years. This allowed Engels to cash in a second time.
OLAF has previously investigated cases of this kind, where the “place of employment” was ultimately deemed fictitious. If an OLAF investigation into the murky arrangements put in place by Martin Schulz for his crony Markus Engels concludes that – as is patently obvious from the facts – Mr Engels never lived in Brussels, it seems likely that the Schulz/Engels operation will be deemed fraud. It would then be up to the Belgian or German authorities to prosecute both men.
Stern points out with irony that while Martin Schulz continues to campaign throughout Germany, conveniently ignoring the fraud accusations against him, he claims to stand for the “hard-working people who keep the rules”. There is no doubt that Mr Engels worked very hard for five years under his political master Martin Schulz. What is in doubt is whether this work was for the Parliament’s press service as he was handsomely paid to do, or whether it was for Schulz and the SPD’s political activities.