The European Court of Auditors has been
accused of having a “culture of cover-up” by a former court member,
according to media reports.

Maarten Engwirda, who recently left his post
as a court member after 15 years’ service, claimed the court’s
reports on the financial health of the EU had been subject to
political interference, especially prior to 2004.

For example, Engwirda alleged there was strong
pressure from France to bury a notorious fraud case involving the
Flechard dairy company and abuse of EU butter export subsidies
worth tens of millions of euros in the 1990s. Engwirda said the
culture had led him to threaten to resign as head of the

According to Engwirda, the worst practices
took place before 2004 and when the EU grew from 15 to 25 members,
the problem began to diminish.

In 2008, the organisations procedures changed
so that national audit offices reviewed its work and Engwirda said
this eliminated the practice.

Engwirda is planning to write a book about his
experiences this year.

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The EU Court of Auditors carries out the audit
of EU finances to ensure funds are properly collected and legally
spent. It acts as the guardian of the financial interests of EU
union citizens.

Coincidentally, the Court of Auditors today
re-elected Vítor Manuel da Silva Caldeira as the president for a
second three-year term. During his first term of office, he oversaw
a reform of the court’s structure and decision-making through the
introduction of a chamber system, which has streamlined its