Law & Disorder —

Former EU digital chief Neelie Kroes faces corruption accusations from MEPs

New leak ties one-time antitrust boss to Middle Eastern firm based in the Bahamas.


By Jennifer Baker

Ex-Brussels' digital chief Neelie Kroes (pictured far right) recently joined a brace of tech company boards: Uber and Salesforce.

BRUSSELS—Erstwhile European Commission digital chief, and now Uber and Salesforce lobbyist , Neelie Kroes has come under fire after it was revealed that she was a director of an energy company set up in the Bahamas—a well-known tax haven.

Mint Holdings, funded by the United Arab Emirates, was established specifically to purchase assets from Enron.

According to a trove of documents released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Kroes was director of the company from 2000 to 2009—a five year overlap with her role in Brussels. She served as commissioner from 2004 to 2014, first as competition chief, before going on to oversee the EC's digital agenda in 2010.

While there is no apparent evidence that she took an active role in Mint Holdings, commissioners are banned from engaging in "any other professional activity"—financial or otherwise—during their tenure. Kroes' lawyer blamed an administrative error with the claim that she thought the company had been liquidated in 2002.

The revelation, which comes hot on the heels of the Panama Papers leak , led to outrage among MEPs.

Left political group, GUE/NGL, said "Steely Neelie must face tough sanctions." It claimed that she had "violated her duty to stay out of business during her service as EU commissioner. Kroes has been recruited by a United Arab Emirates vulture fund set up to form a strategic alliance with the sunk US energy giant Enron against Russian gas. She vowed to the European Parliament not to return to business after her term, but now is a paid advisor for Uber and Bank of America."

German MEP Fabio De Masi called for Kroes to be stripped of her pension benefits and "similar privileges," and went on to claim:

While godfather of corporate tax dodging Jean-Claude Juncker heads the European Commission, his predecessor Jose Manuel Barroso sells off to Goldman Sachs, EU commissioner Miguel Aries Canete has some unexplained 'family business' in the Panama Papers, and now Neelie Kroes turns out to have been a 'Gas Princess' with a letterbox company on the Bahamas while regulating the gas market in Europe.

Socialists and Democrats leader Gianni Pittella said he was "shocked by the new revelations," and described the behaviour as "shameful."

Ars requested comment from Kroes, but she hadn't got back to us at time of publication.

Source : ‘Ars Technica UK'

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