EU fraud arrests

 

TWO European Commission tourism officials and the wife of one of the officials have been arrested in connection with an investigation of bribes and other fraud, Belgian officials said yesterday.

Mr George Tzoanos, a Greek who headed the Commission's tourism unit, Mr Pascal Chatillon, a Frenchman who worked with him, and Mr Tzoanos's wife were arrested on Thursday and Friday on orders from a Belgian magistrate, the officials said.

They were charged after investigators found evidence that recipients of European Union subsidies to promote tourism had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in "illegal commissions", a Justice Department anti fraud unit said in a statement.

In some cases, companies paid European officials between 10 per cent and 50 per cent of the total subsidies, the Central Office to Fight Organised Economic and Financial Crime (OCDEFO) said.

The investigation turned up evidence of other fraud possibly involving millions of dollars in subsidies for fictitious projects, it said.

The Commission fired Mr Tzoanos and Mr Chatillon last autumn after an internal investigation.