EU investigates McCreevy bank job for 'conflict of interest' risk
Published 05/10/2010 | 05:00
THE European Commission is investigating the appointment of former commissioner Charlie McCreevy to the board of a bank that is buying up the assets of troubled financial institutions.
It is examining whether Mr McCreevy's involvement with London-based NBNK Investments is a conflict of interest and if his appointment is a breach of the commission's code of conduct.
It is understood that he will be paid €61,000 a year as a non-executive director and that his annual salary will double to €122,000 if NBNK makes a major acquisition.
The European Parliament's budget committee last week voted to freeze the salaries and allowances of European commissioners unless urgent changes were made to the code of conduct governing them.
The Labour Party's MEP for Leinster, Nessa Childers, said: "This vote showed that the parliament will not tolerate any repeat of cases of commissioners walking straight into high-paid positions after their time in Barroso's cabinet, which may potentially cause a conflict of interest."
Mr McCreevy (61) is understood to be drawing down a "golden parachute" -- a severance package -- from the EU of €11,000 a month.
Before he stood down as the EU's internal market commissioner in February, his €238,000 salary was topped up with a TD's and Irish government minister's annual pension of €125,000.
When he turns 65, the commission will pay him €4,000 a month while the Irish taxpayer will fund his €90,000 annual ministerial and TD pensions.
For a year after they leave office, EU commissioners are in "quarantine" and must seek the commission's approval before taking up paid employment.
There were no objections to Mr McCreevy joining the board of Ryanair because his EU brief was not directly involved in aviation. However, as EU commissioner for internal markets, Mr McCreevy was involved in the reform of financial regulations -- and he was known to favour "light touch" regulation.
NBNK Investments hopes to raise up to €4bn from investors to buy assets in banks and it hopes to get a listing on the stock market.
The EU anti-lobbying group ALTER-EU says that a total of six of the commissioners who worked alongside Mr McCreevy are now in jobs that could conflict with their former portfolios.
MEPs want a cooling off, or quarantine period, of at least two years before a commissioner can go into other employment after leaving office.
An EU spokesman confirmed yesterday that no retiring commissioner had ever been refused permission to take up a position after leaving office.
Mr McCreevy could not be reached for comment.