Kroes faces new conflict of interest hurdle

12th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

12 October 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Ballast Nedam, one of the companies Dutch EC candidate commissioner Neelie Kroes served with as a supervisory board member, is suspected of entering into an illegal cartel deal.

12 October 2004

AMSTERDAM — Ballast Nedam, one of the companies Dutch EC candidate commissioner Neelie Kroes served with as a supervisory board member, is suspected of entering into an illegal cartel deal.

The European Commission suspects the company of entering into an illegal deal over the production of bitumen, a raw material for asphalt. The allegations could pose a conflict of interest for Kroes, the candidate EC Competition Commissioner.

But a commission spokeswoman said on Tuesday the allegations do not pose a problem in the short term. Without identifying the companies specifically, she said the official allegations will be lodged this month, before Kroes takes up her position in the EC on 1 November.

A spokeswoman for Ballast Nedam said an investigation is being conducted in the Netherlands into the purchasing of bitumen. She confirmed Ballast Nedam does not itself produce bitumen but it is one of the companies under investigation.

Brussels alleges that producers (mostly oil companies) and construction companies co-operated by agreeing not to undercut prices.

The deal was highly lucrative for producers and construction companies were given purchasing deductions. The Dutch government was forced as a result to pay more for the construction of new roads.

Kroes could be confronted with the case next year should she be appointed as an EC commissioner, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.

But amid concerns over possible conflicts of interest due to her many 'inks with the business community, the former government minister has promised to transfer controversial cases to an EC colleague to avoid conflicts of interest.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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