Marta AndreasenMarta Andreasen addressing the EU Parliament
Marta Andreasen is an Argentinean born Spanish accountant (*1954), employed in January 2002 by the European Commission as Chief Accountant, and notable for raising concerns about fraud potential within EU, neglected by the Commission.
- 1 Professional career
- 2 OECD
- 3 Brussels
- 4 Worldwide response
- 5 UK Independence Party
- 6 Personal
- 7 Quotes
- 8 References
- 9 Books on subject
- 10 See also
She joined the OECD in 1998, where she reported serious problems with its accounting system, raised her concerns with the management and suggested ways of reforms. After initial resistance, Arthur Andersen were assigned for an outside analysis. In August 2000, their report described the OECD's internal accounting systems as outdated and inadequate. Mrs Andreasen, however, was suspended from her job for 15 months.
In January 2002 she began her new job in Brussels, as Chief Accountant ("budget execution director and accounting officer"), the first professional accountant hired.
Concerns over EC's accounting
To her surprise she found out that EC's account department uses Excel spreadsheets – instead of a professional accounting software – which allows for easy misuse, as entries may be altered without any trace. Moreover, the fundamental double book-keeping which is the basics of any accounting on a larger scale and by EU standards mandatory for all private companies, is missing in the EU institutions. She also criticized the EU's accounting system for being open to fraud.
Mrs Andreasen raised her criticisms and proposals for overdue improvements and changes internally, but made no progress with her superior. She then submitted her report to the Commissioner Michaele Schreyer and the Commission President Romano Prodi. She again received no answers and so approached members of the EU Parliament’s Budget Control Committee.
She, consequently, refused to sign off the 2001 European Commission accounts. With this, she is not alone – The EU's Court of Auditors can only fully validate 5% of the money spent and have criticized the system every year since 1994. In the discharge procedure in 2003 the Commission promised comprehensive reform  .
At this stage the media began to investigate and to report. Mrs Andreasen went public with her concerns in the first week of February 2002 .
Mrs Andreasen was fully suspended from her job by the Commission in May 2002 (for "violating Articles 12 and 21 of staff regulations, failure to show sufficient loyalty and respect"), underwent a disciplinary procedure and in the end was fired in 2005. She said to have been suspended from her job and ultimately fired because she refused to sign accounts she believed were unreliable – in 2002 alone, her office found 10,000 possible cases of fraud in EU accounts. The EC says she was disloyal. . The Civil Service Tribunal of the EU confirmed the sacking of Marta Andreasen in its decision of 8th November 2007 .
Since then Mrs Andreasen gave, and gives, a number of interviews and speeches presenting not only her criticism but before all the measures to be taken.
Among her first appearances were invitations by the fraud examiners in Las Vegas, the Institute of Internal Auditors in Ireland and Accountancy Age in Britain, which in 2003 awarded her with the reader-voted Accountancy Age Award as Personality of the Year. In 2004 followed the Cliff Robertson Sentinel Award for "choosing truth over self".
UK Independence Party
Mrs Andreasen is married to Octavio Otano, an economist. They have two children (*1981, *1984) and live in Barcelona.
by Marta Andreasen
- "I mean it's immeasurable, you don't have a system to record transactions
You have a balance sheet that the commission presents every year with its assets and liabilities that is built on the aggregation of spreadsheets – have you ever seen this?
I think the shop on the corner doesn't have this type of accounting system."
"It's like going to a bank and somebody telling you the safeboxes are open. You have to prove if somebody took the money away, but the fact they are open makes it easy to have fraud or money going away."
"I think I have surfaced the problems, maybe made people more aware and made people aware that there is the need for urgent reform. This is not making trouble."
–3 October 2002 
- "The EC should set the example for private companies, but it is the
opposite. It issues directives, but doesn't follow them."
"Investors make up their own minds where they want their money. But taxpayers are not even asked this question."
"I had to make a decision whether I was prepared to act against my principles. I haven't done things that went against my professional integrity in the whole of my twenty-year professional career. It's not a question of philosophy."
"I'm not prepared to give up because there has been a lot of damage to my reputation. I asked the commission to protect me but it refused. If I abandon now I would be damaging my credibility. I have public support, which is very important, and I will defend myself legally and fight to bring transparency and accountability to the EC in the best way I can."
"The latest reports from the European Court of Auditors and the Eurostat case have vindicated me. Reinstatement is the first step the commission should take in respect of this vindication. The EC must make important changes and it needs people with experience and who insist on integrity."
—27 November 2003 
- "In America, they like heroes; in Europe, they don't."
"It was not as though I was asking them to build a cathedral or send a man to the moon. Had they followed my advice, today there would be effective measures in place, and the funds would be protected. Instead, I was suspended, and the EC said they already knew about the problems."
–July 2004 
- "There has been much optimistic talk about how the new Commission and the
new constitution will reform the European Union. I am not convinced that either
will tackle the EU’s most pressing problem: Brussels’s culture of
unaccountability and lack of control of its funds."
"Opportunities for fraud are open and they are taken advantage of. The most elementary precautions are neither taken nor even contemplated. The reverse is the case. People such as myself who attempt to bring openness and accountability to the system are pursued, suspended and dismissed."
"I do not hold much hope for the new Barroso Commission ... getting a grip on fraud. Some of the new commissioners have already been put into question by their past."
"The institution responsible for this state of affairs is primarily the Commission, even though in recent years this institution has reverted to blaming member countries. But above them are the MEPs. The European Parliament’s job is to shout for the taxpayer. Instead it has refused to hear me, which surprised me because I was trying to speak on behalf of the taxpayer. Worse, MEPs continue to give discharge to the Commission on its financial responsibility, in the knowledge of the vulnerability of the system to fraud and the lack of action to resolve this situation for the past ten years."
"All of this is sad, and not only because of the opportunity for colossal fraud and dishonest waste of money. Good men and women have lost faith in Europe. I have been called a Eurosceptic, but I am not one. I want to fight for a good EU project. To do that we must fight for transparency, for responsibility, for accountability."
–6 December 2004 
on Marta Andreasen
- "Factually substantive and correct." (on Mrs Andreasen's charges of fraud
at the EC)
"Ten years after the Commission first failed to get normal audit blessing on its accounts and controls, it still does not have a proper accountability construct. This extraordinary situation is the major cause of the chronically sordid state of quality accounting."
"I know of no professional accountant ever having to start her job with such a vulnerable opening balance sheet. I would for no money have wanted to be in Ms Andreasen's shoes, recognizing the unforgiving inclination of a bureaucracy once one is declared taboo by the powers that be, considering the collective firepower it can marshal to trash an individual singled out, if it so wishes, at taxpayers' expense. This is after all an organization that can sanction people for not speaking well about the Commission."
–Jules Muis, the commission's internal auditor (who, after a "voluntary" sick leave, retired in 2004), in his 2005 report 
- "She has said what many Europeans feel about the poor controls and weak
accountability for taxpayers money."
"It goes to the heart of the credibility of the concept of the European Union. If the organization is to succeed, it needs the trust of European voters and voters are taxpayers."
–Toby J. F. Bishop, president of the fraud examiners in Las Vegas, 2004
- "Andreasen's case has been handled ineffectively, politically and
"Marta is a victim." (before an EP committee, July 2004)
–Paul van Buitenen
- ^ Marta Andreasen entry in the euabc.com (a bit dated)
- ^ The Marta Andreasen and Fabra Valles cases: an exclusive JUST Response report from the Dougal Watt Dossier – Mismanagement and Corruption in Europe – Letter from Robert Dougal Watt, Auditor, European Court of Auditors, to Michel Hervé, Secretary General, European Court of Auditors, 16 September 2002
- ^ Becky Barrow: I'm not a politician — just a bean-counter, says Andreasen, The Daily Telegraph: 8 February 2002
- ^ Charles Oliver: Brussels Sprouts Corruption, 3 January 2005, Reason Magazine
- ^ UKIP prepares for battle over EU, BBC News, 5 October 2007
- ^ EU
accounts 'open to fraud' – Marta Andreasen met the BBC's Tim Andersen, BBC
News, BBC News 24, BBC World – Hardtalk, 3 October
The full interview as Real-video
- ^ Michelle Perry: Profile: Marta Andreasen, Personality of the Year, Accountancy Age, 27 November 2003
- ^ The Workplace: Blowing whistles and the EU, International Herald Tribune, 28 July 2004
- ^ Marta Andreasen: Brussels and a culture of corruption – The new EU constitution will do nothing to end fraud at the heart of Europe, The Times, 6 December 2004
- ^ Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: EC's 'sordid accounting' damned in email from top auditor, The Telegraph, 14 March 2005
Books on subject
- Andreas Oldag, Hans-Martin Tillack: Raumschiff Brüssel – Wie die Demokratie in Europa scheitert (in German, Spaceship Brussels – How Democracy in Europe fails), Argon Verlag, 2003 (1st ed., hardcover), ISBN-10: 3870245786, ISBN-13: 978-3870245788 / Fischer, Frankfurt 2004 (2nd ed.) ISBN-10: 3596157463, ISBN-13: 978-3596157464
- Paul van Buitenen: Blowing the Whistle: Fraud in the European Commission, Politicos Pub, 2000, ISBN-10: 1902301463, ISBN-13: 978-1902301464
- Paul van Buitenen
- Accountability in the European Union
- Resignation of the Santer Commission
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