independent

Wednesday 23 April 2014

EU President demands probe into source of Libertas funding

THE president of the European Parliament yesterday demanded a full investigation into anti-Lisbon treaty group Libertas over the source of its funding.

Hans-Gert Poettering said serious questions needed to be asked about where Libertas had got its money from and the links of its chief Declan Ganley to the US military.

"We require total transparency. We need to know how much money Libertas had and where it came from," Mr Poettering said at the opening of this week's plenary session in Brussels.

Investigation

"A total of €200,000 came from a single donor who was a key organiser for Libertas and has military procurement contracts with the US government. I ask Dick Roche, the Irish Europe minister, to make sure he carries out a full and thorough investigation so that we can have full transparency."

Speaking as he arrived in Brussels last night, Mr Roche said his European counterparts had "huge concerns" about Libertas's funding and its fundraising plans for the future.

"During the campaign, Mr Ganley talked about lack of transparency, lack of accountability and lack of democracy in Europe, which I disagreed with. Yet, he's the very one who has shown absolutely no transparency and no accountability," the Irish European Affairs Minister said.

"Reviewing the Libertas funding, which is the same for all parties as we all have to make a disclosure, is a matter for the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO). I've no doubt that given recent statements about €200,000 loans there will be significant interest in Libertas."

Mr Ganley last week admitted to loaning €200,000 of his own money to Libertas after reports had surfaced that his company Rivada has contracts with the US military worth hundreds of millions of euro.

Under campaign finance laws, loans which are not subject to normal commercial terms -- involving interest, a repayment schedule and a formal agreement -- can be classed as donations.

Mr Ganley has insisted the loan he gave to the organisation was a normal commercial transaction subject to standard terms. However, he has also confirmed that Libertas has yet to begin repaying the loan.

Maximum

Under EU rules, the maximum donation allowed is just over €6,000, meaning that if Ganley's loan is classed as a donation, he could be liable to prosecution.

"There is now a direct link between Irish referendum, the US military and the Pentagon. I call on the authorities to probe the matter," said Greens' leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit.

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