EU executive to rewrite conflict of interest rules

The European Commission has announced that it would clarify rules on conflicts of interest for former senior staff members who take up private sector posts and would reduce parachute payments. "The current system is unsatisfactory," said an EU source involved in talks on rewriting the European Commission's code of conduct in this area on condition of anonymity. "We have to be absolutely clear that there are no conflicts of interest," the source stressed, which means "defining in a stricter way what constitutes a conflict of interest." The issue has come to a head after the commission's ethics committee forced former Irish internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy to relinquish his directorship of a London investment banking group...

AFP             October 14, 2010

Accountancy firms: A conflict of interest?

These are tough times for bean-counters. Recent revenue figures for two of the big four accountancy firms show small declines. Their auditing and tax-advice businesses are stagnant. But consulting is buoyant. PWC’s consulting revenues, announced on October 4th, rose 7.9% between 2009 and 2010. Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu’s grew by 14.9%. Ernst & Young’s grew by a more modest 2%, but the trend is clear. For the big four-which also include KPMG-consulting now generates between a sixth and a third of global revenue, and this figure is growing. Some people find this worrying. In America, accountants are barred from providing most non-audit services to firms they audit. (This rule was introduced after the collapse of Enron, whose auditor, Arthur Andersen, was thought to have gone easy on the crooked energy firm to protect its lucrative business advising it.) In other countries, however, the rules are less strict...

The Economist            October 14, 2010

Former Finnish premier to face probe over conflict of interest

A probe should be launched into whether former Finnish prime minister Matti Vanhanen violated conflict of interest rules, a parliamentary committee ruled Tuesday. The constitutional law committee said Finland's top prosecutor should review if Vanhanen broke the rules when he took part in a cabinet decision on the distribution of funds from the state-owned Finnish Slot Machine Association (RAY) to a youth housing foundation with close links to his Centre Party. The housing foundation contributed funds to Vanhanen's unsuccessful 2006 presidential election campaign, when he ran against Tarja Halonen. Vanhanen stepped down as prime minister and Centre Party leader this summer and recently left parliament. He has in several interviews said his decision to leave politics was not linked to any possible ethics probe...

DPA           October 12, 2010

Former Irish Finance Minister quits investment firm after conflict of interest ruling

Former Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy stepped down from the board of a British investment firm yesterday after a Brussels committee found a conflict of interest with his previous work as EU commissioner in charge of financial regulation. The former Fianna Fail TD is the first former commissioner to be warned off a new post. Mr McCreevy joined the board of NBNK Investments as a non-executive director in July with an initial salary of €61,000 a year. This was to double to €122,000 if NBNK completed a major acquisition. His decision to take the post prompted Labour Party MEP Nessa Childers to dub him the "real-life Gordon Gekko", a reference to the avaricious corporate raider from 1980s blockbuster 'Wall Street'...

Independent.ie           October 08, 2010

EU to probe German ex-commissioner's alleged conflict of interest

The European Commission confirmed Wednesday it will look into conflict-of-interest allegations against a former top official who set up a European Union affairs consultancy soon after leaving his post in Brussels. Guenter Verheugen was Germany's two-term European commissioner, from 1999 to February 2010. In April, he founded the European Experience Company, offering EU-related advice and support to businesses and public institutions. The company has already started to promote its services through a website, despite the fact that the commissioners' code of conduct stipulates that in the first year after leaving their job, they should seek Brussels' clearance before taking up new positions...

DPA               September 08, 2010

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