Greece’s ex-EU commissioner says NGO in graft scandal paid him €60,000 last year
Former migration chief Dimitris Avramopoulos resigned from the ‘Fight Impunity’ group as soon as the scandal broke.
Greece’s former European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos said Monday he was paid €60,000 between February 2021 and February 2022 by a nongovernmental organization at the heart of a snowballing corruption scandal in Brussels.
The NGO Fight Impunity was founded by ex-Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, who has been arrested and charged with corruption in a case hinging on whether Qatar and Morocco bought influence in the European Parliament.
“My involvement in ‘Fight Impunity’ was from the beginning completely without executive or management responsibilities,” the former commissioner said in a statement to the Greek state news agency AMNA, responding to reports in La Stampa and El Mundo.
Former EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, former French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, Italian Senator Emma Bonino and former MEP Cecilia Wikström were also all listed as members of an “Honorary Board” of Fight Impunity. So is MEP Isabel Santos. They’ve all quit the board in the wake of allegations against Panzeri.
Cazeneuve said he was not paid for his involvement and reiterated that he had no involvement in the NGO beyond accepting joining the honorary board. A representative for Mogherini said she also had received no payment.
The think tank was not listed in the official transparency register of lobbyists.
Avramopoulos said he received permission from the Independent Ethical Committee of the European Commission on December 10, 2020 to take up the position and received a declared honorarium between February 2021 and February 2022 of some €60,000. He said he received a monthly payment of €5,000, which was declared and taxed in Greece, in accordance with Greek law. His monthly net income was €3,750.
“In February 2022, because the activity of the organization had waned, I requested and stopped the compensation. From March onwards, my participation had effectively ended,” Avramopoulos said.
“As soon as I was informed of what happened recently in Brussels, I immediately and irrevocably tendered my resignation and asked for my name to be removed from the website, together with the other personalities who participated in the committee,” he added.
Avramopoulos — along with former Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, former Cypriot Commissioner Markos Kyprianou and former Slovak Foreign Minister Jan Kubiš — is one of the contenders for the post of the EU special representative for the Gulf region.