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Ex-EU commissioner under scrutiny over undeclared offshore directorship

Marcel van Hoorn, AFP | Ex-EU commissioner Neelie Kroes

The European Commission said on Thursday it was looking into whether to take action against former EU commissioner Neelie Kroes for failing to declare a directorship of an offshore firm in the Bahamas.


Kroes, who was the Commission’s anti-trust chief and then oversaw digital affairs under former president Jose Manuel Barroso for a decade until 2014, confirmed to newspapers which published leaked Bahamas documents that she should have declared her interest in the offshore company.

A spokeswoman for the Commission said: “Mrs. Kroes has now informed us and we will analyse and check the information before commenting.”

European Union officials said that a failure to declare such a directorship would be a breach of EU rules.

The revelation comes at an awkward time for the Commission, which is battling to regain public trust following the British vote to leave the Union. Against a rise of nationalist and anti-establishment parties across Europe, it is fighting to change an impression that it is too close to big business.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has already made clear his irritation with his predecessor Barroso for taking a job with U.S. bank Goldman Sachs this summer.

Kroes also came in for criticism from the Commission earlier this month after she publicly questioned the decision of the current competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, to demand 13 billion euros in back taxes from Apple Inc in Ireland.

A Commission spokesman noted in reaction that the Dutch former digital commissioner now holds a position at U.S. ride-sharing company Uber, which she had openly supported during her mandate as tech commissioner in its legal battles with taxi drivers’ organisations in Europe.


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