Poland's candidate for EU Commissioner under scrutiny by anti-fraud office
The European Commission respects the principle of presumption of innocence - the Commission's spokesperson Mina Andreeva said on Monday, asked about the European Anti-Fraud Office's inquiry into Polish and French candidates for Commissioners, Janusz Wojciechowski and Sylvie Goulard.
In recent days, European media reported that OLAF had launched an inquiry into Poland's candidate for EU Commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski. According to the media, the inquiry pertains to the alleged irregulaties in travel expenses reimbursements. OLAF confirmed on Monday that it indeed looks into Wojciechowski's case.
According to the media, OLAF also investigates the French candidate Sylvie Goulard. "Le Monde" wrote that Goulard is said to have been involved in creating fictitious vacancies in the European Parliament. French media reported that she was to return 45.000 euros of unjustly paid out money. "Le Monde" informs, however, that the case hasn't been closed in France and appropriate bodies are investigating the fictitious work of assistants at the EU Parliament. OLAF inquiry is also ongoing.
The European Commission was asked to comment on both cases in Monday.
"OLAF is independent. We will respect its independence and the presumption of innocence principle," Andreeva said. She added that creating a new EC is always a delicate process. "We need to make sure that the best people take over the right portfolio in the Commission," she explained.
A source in the European Commission told Polish Press Agency (PAP) that any concerns regarding potential candidates for Commissioners should be directed to the EC head, Ursula von der Leyen.
The European Anti-Fraud Office confirmed on Monday that it looks into Wojciechowski's case. "The fact that OLAF examines the case does not mean that the people in question are indeed guilty of irregularities or fraud," OLAF press office informed.
"OLAF fully respects the presumption of innocence and the right to defense of people under investigation," it was added in the statement.
In an interview for PAP on Friday (September 6), Wojciechowski underscored that "on his own initiative" he returned over 11.000 euro to the EP in 2016, after he had found "a risk of a mistake in these calculations" when settling travel expenses for 2009-2011. He stressed that he had documents proving it, that he could present.
Wojciechowski also said that OLAF had sent him a notice listing nine irregulaties in his travel expense forms. He added that these irregulaties were unintentional, such as writing an incorrect car registration number or providing an incorrect mileage from memory.
"I have reasons to consider this inquiry as closed, only without final conclusions yet formulated," Wojciechowski said.