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Bribes probe sears EU Parliament

Bribes probe sears EU Parliament
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Three European Parliament members are under investigation on corruption allegations. The Sunday Times says journalists posing as lobbyists offered 60 MEPs bribes to propose law amendments.

The British paper said Austrian Ernst Strasser, of the European People’s Party, Slovenian Zoran Thaler and Romanian Adrian Severin — both in the parliament’s Socialists & Democrats group, took the bait, all three of them former government ministers.

The first two have quit their MEP seats. The third has not.

Former Romanian deputy prime minister Adrian Severin in Bucharest denied the allegations. So did the others, saying they had stepped down to give probes into the matter free rein.

Severin said: “I have informed my colleagues about the whole situation and about my hope that an inquiry in the European Parliament will be started as soon as possible, so that everything will be clarified.”

An alliance of transparency campaigners has urged a thorough overhaul of ethics rules for MEPs.

Olivier Hoedeman, with ALTER-EU, said: “I am afraid it is not an isolated case. The fact that these three MEPs were so eagerly accepting the deal that was made I think is a very bad sign. It shows that there are MEPs who are corruptible, and I will be surprised that this is only those three.”

Institutional reform group ALTER-EU said: “This scandal could be the tip of the iceberg.”

Critics say many MEPs hold second jobs that lead to conflicts of interest and that current ethics rules are inadequate.