Belgian court to place ex-EU official, lobbyist on trial

21st April 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Belgian court will put a Dutch former European Commission official and a French farmers union lobbyist on trial over a decade-old corruption affair, officials said.

Former EU agriculture official Karel Brus is accused of having furnished lobbyist Jean-Jacques Vies with confidential information on the EU's Common Agricultural Policy that benefitted exporters.

The controversial policy sees some 40 percent of the EU's near 130-billion-euro ($190 billion) budget paid to farmers.

"The date of the trial will soon be set," the judicial source in Brussels told AFP. A source close to the European Union executive said it was a "very sensitive affair" that was being viewed "with a certain apprehension."

Twelve people and three companies are implicated in the affair, French public radio said, citing Belgian justice officials. An investigation was launched in 2001.

Brus is accused of enjoying lavish hospitality in Paris and passing "privileged" market data which allowed French exporters to steal a march on markets, Vies told investigators, according to France Inter.

The affair resurfaces just as European Parliament lawmakers are in the spotlight in a "cash-for-laws" scandal after a sting by the England-based Sunday Times newspaper saw MEPs accept hundreds of thousands of euros offered by fake lobbyists wanting laws changed.

© 2011 AFP

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