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Poland's EU commission candidate secures fraud reprieve

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s anti-fraud agency said it would not take disciplinary action against Poland’s candidate for the next European Commission, following a probe into expenses he had filed.

The agency, OLAF, said on Friday it had finished its investigation into Janusz Wojciechowski, who has been put forward as the commissioner responsible for agriculture in the next EU executive from 2019 to 2024.

OLAF had looked into possible abuse of Wojciechowski’s travel and subsistence expenses from his time as a member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2016. He is currently a member of the European Court of Auditors.

The agency concluded that Wojciechowski should pay back 11,243 euros (£10,006) based on travel declarations and attendance records, adding that he has since done so.

“No disciplinary or judicial recommendations have been made concerning Mr Wojciechowski in person,” OLAF said in a statement.

OLAF’s move on the Polish candidate followed similarly good news for Belgium’s candidate, Didier Reynders, as Brussels prosecutors said they have ended a corruption investigation after finding no evidence of wrongdoing. Reynders is the commissioner designate for justice.

However, question marks still hang over Romania’s candidate, Rovana Plumb, eyed as the next transport commissioner, and Laszlo Trocsanyi, Hungary’s former justice minister proposed as the next commissioner for EU enlargement.

The European Parliament is set to begin hearings on Monday into the 26-strong team named by future Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The parliament’s legal committee decided on Thursday that neither of the hearings for Plumb or Trocsanyi could go ahead because of inconsistencies in their financial statements.

The parliament will vote on Oct. 22 on the commission as a whole before it can take office on Nov. 1.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop in Brussells; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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