The audit did not unearth any major fraud case. However, it noted that some of the EU's farm subsidies and aid for development of poor regions had/may have gone to ineligible people.
"The most frequent errors were claims for illegible expenditure and failure to carry out tender procedures as well as a lack of evidence to support the calculation of ... costs involved."
This humiliation could not come at a worse time for the EC.
Marta Andreasen, the former chief accountant of the European Commission, has said she is up against a "mafia" in the Commission whose aim it is to frighten off whistleblowers.
Andreasen lost her appeal against her dismissal by the EC last week, but that said she plans to appeal that judgment too.
Andreasen was suspended by the Commission in 2002, and was later sacked after exposing failures and weaknesses in accounting procedures.
As if by strange coincidence the ICAEW has invited Siim Kallas (Vice President of the EC in charge of administration, audit and anti fraud) to address a meeting at the ICAEW on 26th November.
The meeting is being organised by the ICAEW (co hosted by CIPFA) to promote "improved understanding of the Commission's accounting and auditing process".
The meeting also aims to:
- Consider objectively the progress made by the Commission in reforming internal accounting and auditing process
- Elicit an exchange of views on how public and private organisations deal with qualified accounts
Given the ICAEW's current predilection for globalisation and co-operation with international professional bodies (despite an internal structure of governance that resembles a Victorian trading association) now would be a good time for the ICAEW to sally forth into Europe, and offer to train those in the EC who hold the purse strings, and have responsibility for spending our money, in the basics of accounting and financial reporting.