Former EIB president Werner Hoyer is investigated by the EU for corruption

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Werner Hoyer, the former president of the European Investment Bank, is being investigated for corruption, abuse of influence and embezzlement of EU funds, charges he describes as “absurd and baseless”. .

The investigation into Hoyer, 72, a German economist and former junior minister who led the EU bank for decades, is being led by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, which control the misuse of EU funds.

EIB is the EU’s lending organization and the world’s largest multilateral development lending organization, with capital of more than 500 billion euros.

During his two terms at the bank, Hoyer played a key role in steering the bank’s operations in a greener direction, while staving off calls to take on more risk. He was succeeded by Nadia Calviño, former deputy prime minister of Spain, in December at the end of his second term.

Responding to questions from the Financial Times, Hoyer said: “The allegations against me are absolutely absurd and baseless. I now expect them to be fully investigated and clarified and require the EIB to cooperate fully with EPPO. I am also cooperating fully with EPPO and request from them full clarification of the truth.”

The case is one of the most prominent brought by EPPO, which like the Luxembourg-based EIB, since it began operations in 2021.

The prosecutor’s office announced on Monday that the EIB had lifted the immunity of two former employees so that they could be investigated by the EPPO on suspicion of corruption, abuse of influence and misappropriation of EU funds.

Hoyer’s lawyer Nikolaos Gazeas said the former president had “clearly requested his immunity. . . exempted”.

Gazeas said the subject of the investigation was the compensation paid to a departing EIB employee, an agreement signed by the EIB president.

“From a legal perspective, you have to know that the legal requirements to initiate a criminal investigation by EPPO are very low,” Gazeas said. “Therefore, it is not legally unusual for the signatory of the agreement to also become the subject of an investigation. My client was never involved in the negotiations surrounding the employee’s departure.”

EU officials are granted immunity from legal proceedings unless this is lifted by the organisation’s management.

Calviño informed the bank’s regulatory committee that EPPO was reviewing her predecessor, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

Leading the bank through the fallout of the eurozone debt crisis, Hoyer positioned it as the world’s greenest multilateral bank by pledging to phase out fuel lending fossils and direct more funding to climate action.

Hoyer once described the EIB as growing “more or less undetected in the woods of Luxembourg” over the past six decades.

“Sometimes I am surprised that political leaders are not aware of what kind of tools they have in their hands,” he said. told FT in 2019. “It’s a political tool. It serves a political purpose.”

He fiercely defended the lender’s top credit rating and was reluctant to commit the full financial might of the EIB to crises ranging from Covid-19 to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A spokesperson for the bank declined to comment on whether Hoyer was one of those under investigation, adding that the EIB would “cooperate fully with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office on the matter This is upon request.

The EPPO said the EIB would also allow prosecutors to search its premises and archives in Luxembourg.

EPPO added that the granting of immunity to the two former employees “will help collect all the necessary evidence, whether incriminating or exculpatory, to fully clarify the matters under investigation.” .


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