Belgian prosecutors drop Cresson fraud charges
June 29 2004, BRUSSELS – Belgian Prosecutors on Tuesday said they intended to drop all charges against Edith Cresson, the former French Prime Minister who's links to a 1999 fraud scandal forced the entire European Commission to resign.
June 29 2004
BRUSSELS – Belgian Prosecutors on Tuesday said they intended to drop all charges against Edith Cresson, the former French Prime Minister who's links to a 1999 fraud scandal forced the entire European Commission to resign.
Speaking to journalists Cresson, who was EU commissioner for research between 1994 and 1999, said she was "particularly happy" that the prosecutors had decided to drop the charges.
"The prosecution has disproved all of the rumours, the false noises, the lies, the calumnies that were directed at me and my department," she added.
A Brussels court will decide on Wednesday whether or not to follow the prosecutor's advice and drop the case.
But whatever happens, the European Commission itself will still carry out its own internal investigation into the allegations of nepotism and sloppy management that Cresson was embroiled in.
One of the most high profile charges against her was that she signed 13 false mission orders so that she could employ her former dentist and aide Rene Berthelot.
It is estimated she paid Berthelot EUR 150,000 in this way.
Cresson is set to attend a hearing at the Commission's Brussels headquarters on Wednesday.
On Tuesday a spokesman for the institution confirmed it had turned down a request for the former prime minister to hold a press conference on its premises.
"If Madame Cresson wants to organise a press conference, she's quite free to do so outside of commission," he said.
During Wednesday's hearing the Commission will ask Cresson to explain her conduct over the 1999 scandal.
It could then decide to take action against her at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg for failing in her duties as a Commissioner.
If the ECJ found against her it could strip the Cresson of her right to a European Commission pension.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news