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EU prosecutors probe former EIB chief for corruption, misappropriation

The criminal allegations are ‘absurd and unfounded,’ said Werner Hoyer, who stepped down at the end of 2023.

Werner Hoyer, former President of the European Investment Bank, today (24 June) confirmed that he is under investigation by the EU’s public prosecutor for corruption and misappropriation, allegations which Hoyer has described as “unfounded and baseless”.

Hoyer has said he’ll cooperate fully with the probe by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), which relates to the compensation paid to a former EIB employee.

“The allegations against me are downright absurd and unfounded,” Hoyer said in an emailed statement. “I now expect them to be fully investigated and clarified and ask the EIB to co-operate fully with the EPPO. I am also co-operating fully with the EPPO and demand a full clarification of the facts from there.”

The statement, sent via his lawyer, states that the probe relates to a staff agreement signed by Hoyer while he was President, but which he had no role in negotiating.

“The legal requirements for starting a criminal investigation by the EPPO is very low,” said his lawyer, Nikolaos Gazeas, adding that it was “not unusual in legal terms” for a signatory to become the subject of an investigation.

The former German deputy foreign minister stepped down from the helm of the EIB at the end of 2023 after serving two six-year terms, to be replaced by Spain’s Nadia Calviño.

An EIB spokesperson told Euronews that it “cannot comment on ongoing external investigations”, but would cooperate with prosecutors in line with usual practice.

The EIB has lifted the immunity of two unnamed former employees, allowing prosecutors access to premises and records, according to an EPPO statement released today.

The request was made as part of an ongoing investigation involving two individuals suspected of corruption and abuse of influence, as well as the misappropriation of EU funds, the EPPO said, adding that suspects are innocent until proven guilty.

The EPPO was launched in 2021 to investigate issues such as farm subsidy fraud, but has also taken an interest in allegations over contracts signed between the European Commission and vaccine maker Pfizer.

The EIB is an EU institution with €250 billion in capital backed by the bloc’s finance ministries – with a focus on priority areas such as climate change and Ukraine’s reconstruction, Calviño told Euronews in February.

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