The European Commission yesterday lifted the immunity enjoyed by Edith Cresson as a former commissioner.
(B2 archives) The European Commission wasted no time in acceding to the Belgian court's request to be able to hear Édith Cresson. Seized, officially, on February 2 by the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it decided yesterday to lift the immunity of the former commissioner for education and research.
“A first for a position of this level – acknowledges the Commission spokesperson – but the decision was facilitated by the fact that the former commissioner spontaneously agreed to come and testify ". Edith Cresson will therefore have to explain herself on the Berthelot file. Her “dentist in Chatellerault”, a town of which she was mayor before becoming European commissioner, benefited from 1995 to 1997, through her benevolence, from a “scientific visitor” contract at the Commission. A contract that quickly appeared to be inconsistent in the eyes of European anti-fraud officials and then independent experts responsible for shedding light on certain issues, troubles of the European Commission.
The activity of Mr. Berthelot seems, in fact, to have been summed up in a dozen notes, "some very vague and political", without "any final report" having been drawn up at the end of his visit as he had to. On the other hand, the some 41 expense reports he produced to go… to Châtellerault, the town where he is from, were very real. As well as his fees. The European Commission has also asked Berthelot to reimburse nearly 900 francs (000 million Belgian francs). Without success so far. But there is worse ! Some evidence of his work is said to have been fabricated a posteriori.
The case of fraud to the Community budget is therefore coupled with the possibility of forgery or use of forgery. Two sufficient reasons for the Brussels examining magistrate specializing in financial files, Jean-Claude Van Espen, to decide to open an investigation "in charge or exoneration", the facts having been committed on Belgian territory. A case to follow all the more closely as this same judge is investigating another case of fraud, where the name of Edith Cresson reappears, those committed by the Agenor/Leonardo technical assistance office in the area of vocational training assistance .
(Published in France-Soir, January 2000)