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Commission embarrassment grows

Posted by Richard Friday, November 19, 2004

To add to the growing embarrassment of Barroso, UKIP have now revealed that the anti-fraud commissioner also has a criminal record.

Vice-President of the EU commission, Siim Kallas, the Estonian commissioner (flagged up in one of our earlier postings), was convicted in 2001 of providing false information during his trial for the theft of $10m from the Central Bank of Estonia in a oil-trading scam in 1993. He was acquitted of charges of abuse and fraud in relation to the oil deal.

Furthermore, Kallas had also appeared in court just five years earlier when he appeared as a witness following the disappearance of Russian Roubles from the Estonian Central Bank, of which he was then the president.

Unbelievably, notes UKIP, Kallas has been appointed a Vice-President of the EU Commission, and has been given the anti-fraud portfolio. Says Nigel Farage, in a refrain that is not uncommon on this Blog, "You simply could not make it up."

Quite how Kallas will react is not yet clear, but already Barrot is reacting with the arrogance typical of the European elites, issuing a statement though his lawyers, warning that any reference to a legal decision subject of amnesty, was liable to legal action under the French penal code.

But it has also emerged that Barrot had failed to tell his new boss, Barroso, about his conviction for embezzlement. Yet, even now, a commission spokesman is insisting that Barrot has a "clean record" – even if it was only because of an amnesty granted by Chirac – and that Barroso has full confidence in Barrot.

However, an anonymous EU official clearly had not been briefed on the "line to take". Commenting on the new developments, he observed that, while Italian Rocco Buttiglione was forced to stand down only weeks because of his personal views on the role of women and his description of homosexuality as "sin", Barrot is allow to remain.

"If the Italian had to go," asked the official, "why is Mr Barrot allowed to stay when he has a criminal conviction – even if it has been officially wiped from the collective French memory?"