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Ex-EU commissioner named in Bahamas offshore leaks

A German newspaper says former EU competition chief Neelie Kroes failed to disclose her interest in an offshore firm. The relevations come from a leak of corporate files from the Bahamas.

Kroes was named late Wednesday by the German daily “Süddeutsche Zeitung” (SZ) for having had a directorship of an offshore shell company in the former British colony of the Bahamas.

According to confidential company registration documents leaked to the paper, the Dutch national was director of Mint Holdings Limited between 2000 and 2009 at the same time she was the head of the European Union antitrust watchdog.

Kroes failed to disclose her outside activity, as per the EU commissioners’ code of conduct, when she took office. The code states that “commissioners may not engage in any other professional activity, whether gainful or not”.

She was EU Competition Commissioner from 2004-2010.

The paper said Kroes should have also declared her resignation from Mint a year before she stepped down from her position in Brussels.

Kroes apologizes

Her lawyer told the paper that Kroes accepts “full responsibility” for the non-disclosure, that there had been a “administrative error,” and she would inform European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The paper said her EU pension and other benefits could be negatively impacted by the omission.

According to Kroes’ lawyer, Mint was founded to buy up international assets from the US energy firm Enron shortly before its collapse. But the paper said the deal, worth $7 billion (6.3 billion euros), fell through.

The venture was funded by a private equity investor in the United Arab Emirates.

Kroes is now a paid adviser to Bank of America and Uber, having taken on several multinational firms as Brussels’ most powerful corporate enforcer.

Others implicated

The leak obtained by “SZ” also revealed offshore financial dealings by Britain’s Home Secretary (Interior Minister) Amber Rudd before she became an MP, former Colombian mining minister Carlos Caballero Argaez, Canadian Finance Minister William Francis Morneau and the Angolan Vice President Manuel Vicente.

A cache of 1.3 million offshore files was leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The names of about a hundred German citizens also appear there.

The paper said without the leak, the current company register in the Bahamas would have failed to reveal Kroes’ name.

mm/kl (AFP, Süddeutsche Zeitung)

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