15 June 2001
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Europol HQ in the Hague was raided by a special Dutch police team on Wednesday 30 May following the arrest of a 41-year old French official who worked in its computer and data section. This followed a raid on his home and detention in custody, where he is being held incommunicado. The official was arrested for alleged forgery.
The misappropriation of funds came to light during the audit of the Europol accounts for 1999. In April this year the President of the Europol Management Board (comprised of high-level representatives from the 15 EU member states) decided that an internal investigation should be carried out by a four-person team headed by Jimmy Martin, the Irish representative. Following this investigation the Board took the matter to Mr Storbeck, head of Europol, who agreed that the matter should be referred to the Dutch police.
Some reports suggest that funds were put into a secret bank account in Bermuda.
The official worked in the computer and data section of Europol which has a staff of 39. The section is run by David Valls-Russell, a former superintendent of the UK Kent police force - there is no suggested that he was involved in the alleged offences. The Dutch police are widening the investigation to other Europol officials.
Europol's annual budget has grown from £4 million in 1998 to £17 million in 2000.
The scandal was uncovered by the Belgian newspaper De Morgen and will cause create embarrassment to EU member states who are planning to significantly increase Europol's role over the next 12 months - including the two-way exchange of data and intelligence with non-EU countries and international organisations.
It also throws into question the lack on on-going mechanisms to ensure that Europol is accountable for its practices. Last year it was decided to make public a "sanitised" annual report in place to the full report - breaking with previous practice, see: Europol
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