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Douglas Watt Whistleblower Case  

A Scottish accountant based in Luxembourg said he feared for his life after claiming to have exposed corruption at the heart of the European Union.

Douglas Watt, who is on long-term sick leave from the EU's court of auditors, claims systematic fraud is being covered up by powerful figures in Brussels.

Mr Watt, 38, accused Euro-MPs of ignoring his complaints and believes the Court of Auditors itself, which monitors the EU's spending, is turning a blind eye to the truth.

His suspicions were first aroused when he was handed the job of investigating controversial tobacco subsidies paid by Brussels to mainly Mediterranean growers in the early 1990s.

In 1993, an Italian commission official, Antonio Quatraro, fell to his death from an EU office block in Brussels. Dr Quatraro was suspected of taking bribes and was under investigation. The police have never established if he jumped or was pushed, but it was widely believed at the time that a major Mafia figure visited Brussels the previous evening and might have been in contact with him.

The Quatraro case led to a protracted row and widespread concern about how tobacco subsidies were targeted by lobbyists and distributed by the commission. There were allegations at the time of Mafia involvement.

Two years later, Mr Watt joined the court of auditors as a senior secondment from the UK National Audit Office after a spell with UK Customs and Excise.

His inquiries into tobacco subsidies led to protracted strains with the court as he claimed to be uncovering a series of scandals.

Eventually in April 2002, he complained formally to the European ombudsman, Euro-MPs, and court staff of "systematic corruption and abuse in the European court of auditors".

He produced a dossier to back his claims of nepotism and individuals turning a blind eye to wrongdoing, and was supported by 205 of his colleagues in Luxembourg - 40% of the court's staff - in a secret ballot.

They endorsed his findings that 15 members of the court had in some way benefited from corruption and called for their resignation. The call was ignored.

Mr Watt told the auditors that the EU's own anti-fraud office had misled investigators and the European Parliament about Dr Quatraro's death. He said he thought Dr Quatraro was "not any Mr Big but was more probably a minor and possibly coerced player in a masonic conspiracy within the European Commission".

When the anti-fraud office refused to act on the findings he began to suspect a wider conspiracy and claimed a senior Eurocrat in the commission had been bribed to kill off further questions.

Mr Watt claimed that corruption was "permitted to flourish to the benefit of all the institutions' elites" and said that despite his action and that of other "whistle-blowers", the EU accountancy system was now "so degraded it cannot police itself".

The following lists all references contained in our database that are relevant to this briefing
The Herald (Glasgow)  [Publication date: 16/9/2002] 'Scots auditor fears for his life over EU fraud claims' by Murray Ritchie Scottish Political Editor
[Date URL accessed: 25/9/2002 | Source ID = 7193]


UNICORN is a Global Unions Anti-corruption Network. It is supported by the international trade union bodies: the TUAC (Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD); Public Services International (PSI); and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).

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