Jurnalistii de la Sunday Timse l-au prins pe fericitul nostru pesedist, Adrian Severin, luand bani pentru a torpila legislatia europeana privind protectia consumatorului. Fiind pesedist, evident banii nu erau din salariu.
Mai jos cele doua articole din The Sunday Times:
Three senior MEPs agreed to table amendments damaging consumer protection across the EU in return for secret payments
Published: 20 March 2011
European MPs have been caught agreeing to accept secret payments to alter laws that will damage the interests of millions of consumers across Britain and Europe.
Three senior MEPS — including a former deputy prime minister — put forward amendments in the European parliament on the understanding that they would be paid by lobbyists.
Two of the amendments now appear in the parliament’s official documents just as the lobbyists had written them. They are a few steps away from becoming law.
The lobbyists were in fact undercover Sunday Times reporters investigating persistent rumours that MEPs are prepared to sell their services.
The amendments were intended to dilute directives supposed to protect customers’ deposits after scandals such as the collapse of the Icelandic banks. Such directives are now routinely incorporated into British law.
The disclosures this weekend are likely to unleash one of the biggest scandals in the parliament’s 53-year history. The parliament’s rules state that MEPs “shall refrain from accepting any ... gift or benefit in the performance of their duties”.
Diana Wallis, a Liberal Democrat MEP who is vice-president of the parliament responsible for transparency, is to launch an inquiry into our findings. “This needs to be fully investigated,” she said.
The reporters contacted a number of MEPs posing as lobbyists. They said they wanted to hire politicians for an advisory board to work for them within parliament.
Three MEPs were keen to be employed by the fake lobbying company and agreed to put forward amendments believing they would be paid for this work with a €100,000 (£87,300) annual salary, a consultancy fee or both. The income comes on top of the £190,000 salary and allowances they can receive as an MEP without receipts. The meetings were secretly filmed and took place in bars, restaurants and the parliament’s two buildings in Brussels and Strasbourg.
Adrian Severin, the 56-year-old former Romanian deputy prime minister, emailed the reporters saying: “Just to let you know that the amendment desired by you has been tabled in due time.then sent an invoice for €12,000 for “consulting services concerning the codification of the Directive 94/19/EC, Directive 2009/14/EC and the amendments thereto”.
Zoran Thaler, the former Slovenian foreign minister, put down an amendment as his first work for the fake company. He asked for the cash to be routed through a London company to keep it secret. “There is no way that I disclose this,” he said.
Ernst Strasser, a former interior minister in Austria, told the reporters, “I’m a lobbyist”, and boasted about serving at least five commercial clients who each paid him €100,000 a year.
He claimed he had given the reporters’ amendment to two key people on the committee reviewing the legislation. After discussions with his colleagues, Strasser reported back that a compromise had been reached to the benefit of the reporters’ fictional client. Strasser told neither of his colleagues that he was working for a paying client.
He was expecting to be paid his first €25,000 quarterly fee for the work at the beginning of March. He said he would not disclose the financial interest to parliament because the money was to be channelled through his Viennese company, which is declared.
The primary role of the 736 members of the European parliament is to scrutinise the 100 or so pieces of legislation that go through its committees each year. The parliament’s power has been increasing and now accounts for about 20% of all new British legislation, according to a House of Commons research paper. Other estimates say the figure could be as high as 50%.
There is concern that powerful business interests are able to hire lobbyists who use their connections with MEPs to influence legislation.
When confronted, Severin said: “I didn’t do anything that was, let’s say, illegal or against any normal behaviour we have here.Both Strasser and Thaler claimed they had known for months that the reporters’ company was bogus and went along with the subterfuge to find out who they were.
The Insight team: Jonathan Calvert, Claire Newell, Michael Gillard
‘I must be careful: there is a smell to lobbying’
An MEP claims to earn more than £400,000 a year moonlighting for clients. He is one of three ready to take cash to help change EU laws
Published: 20 March 2011
The Jeffrey Archer lookalike was in jovial mood when he let his lunch companions in on his secret. If he were to be employed to change laws in the European parliament, he would have to take precautions to avoid suspicion.
“The problem is, a lobbyist is a lobbyist, yes,” he said in a soft Austrian accent. “And a lobbyist has some special smell. It’s true to be said I am myself something like that. So we have to be very careful.”
He had every reason to take care. Ernst Strasser is a member of the European parliament who moonlights as a lobbyist. A former Austrian interior minister, he claims to be making half a million euros (£436,000) a year from private fee-paying clients on top of his MEP’s salary.
At lunch with him in Brussels were two lobbyists from an British company who were about to hire him as their man in parliament. They were, in fact, undercover reporters.
Over the following months Strasser explained how he would pose as a concerned politician, when he was actually secretly lobbying for clients.
Earlier this month he used this tactic when he was hired by the undercover reporters to amend new banking laws. A change was made and Strasser’s job was done. “This is very good,” he said.
In an eight-month Sunday Times investigation, we found that Strasser was one of three MEPs who were prepared secretly to change legislation for money. The two other MEPs’amendments now appear on the parliament’s books as the reporters had written them.
The cash for amendments scandal is set to spark one of the biggest crises in the parliament’s 53 years. This weekend Diana Wallis, vice-president of the parliament and a Liberal Democrat MEP, will launch an official investigation.
Although, the parliament’s rules are notoriously lax, they do say “members of parliament shall refrain from accepting any ... gift or benefit in the performance of their duties”.
The European parliament has grown from a discussion forum to one of the most powerful legislative chambers in the world. Split between bases in Brussels and Strasbourg, it scrutinises about 100 pieces of legislation each year.
Big business is taking an increasingly close interest, and the parliament has become a magnet for lobbyists. The number of accredited lobbyists has grown from 3,500 to 5,000 in the past five years.
Tomorrow SpinWatch, the transparency campaigners, will publish a report showing how reforms to safeguard consumers are being blocked by lobbyists in Brussels working for the banking industry.
The main role of an MEP is to amend legislation initiated by the European commission. On average a piece of legislation attracts 50 to 100 amendments, but a hedge fund directive last year amassed more than 1,600.
“Research shows that two-thirds of these came from the hedge fund industry or lobbyists working on their behalf,” said Olivier Hoedeman of the campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory.
Last summer two separate sources told this newspaper that lobbyists were suspected of going even further and paying MEPs to help change laws in the parliament. If this were so, it was not obvious in the parliament’s register of financial interests, which is treated with disdain by many MEPs.
Posing as a lobbying firm and later as a Russian investment company, the reporters contacted more than 60 MEPs asking if they would be interested in a paid role as an adviser. Many did not reply and others had their assistants issue a curt rejection to the proposal. However, 14 MEPs expressed an interest and met the reporters.