As in the last days Kassandra was too busy with other important matters, we forgot of that good Director-General of the European Commission who got the nobility title of ‘Prince’. Not the ‘Prince of the seven kingdoms and protector of the realm’, but, more modestly, the Prince of the Audits.
To remind our readers, the Director-General in question, cancelled an audit which would have seen the return of several million euros to the Commission. Beyond the cancellation, the audit was kept open through the end of last year, and was only cancelled early in 2015. The reason for keeping the audit running was so that the Court of Auditors (CoA) had no reason to ask questions, as the file was still open. And so, by the date of the annual report of the CoA, the audit was still ongoing.
The Prince has not replied as yet and I very much doubt that he will. Silence is golden; yet not always. The more so that Kassandra has not made references to any name, as of yet.
The Secretariat-General, however, will have to reply to our Access to Documents request filed on August 26. By now, the first deadline of 15 days to reply is about to expire and a reply must be given. Unless the Secretariat-General requests an additional 15 days as it has the right to.
However, the Commission does not have the moral legitimacy to do so. This European Commission is very sensitive in matters of moral legitimization and things do not seem to be as easy as before.
The Secretariat is in intense consultations with the “DG concerned” on what will be released and how. They must release the documents requested as the case IS CLOSED and there is no justification, not to. We are not talking of security matters of financial policies. It is simply a question of a fraudulent, yet ordinary-looking, administrative procedure.
Which brings another matter for consideration. Usually when the Commission wants to hide things, it seems to do so by covering (quite generously) documents with a thick black marker. As the case does not justify any blackout of part of the documents, if they do it they will give Kassandra the opportunity to take the Commission to the European Court of Justice.
The beauty is that by withholding information in this case, it will in no doubt be interpreted as an effort to cover up possible financial fraud. This means that besides the ECJ the matter may also be referred (on the base of the documents blacked out or not released) to the Belgian prosecutor. Yes, to the prosecutor because OLAF does not handle cases involving penal law.
Speaking of which, we understand that the DG concerned, when coming to its first conclusions with the audits (totaling recoveries over € 15 million), should have informed OLAF. Indeed if they did not, it would be serious violation of the rules. As long as the dossier was open, OLAF could do nothing but wait for the case to be finalized. Under the circumstances it would be interesting to know if OLAF was informed that the case was closed so to proceed with its own homework, or not. However, it does not matter because by now OLAF can easily associate what Kassandra has been writing with what it has pending in its filing cabinets.
Next week Kassandra will give you more clues as to who the Prince of the Audits could be.