EU man in Moscow behaved 'deplorably'

SARAH HELM

Brussels

Michael Emerson, the European Union's former ambassador to Moscow, has been granted early retirement and a large pension by the European Commission, despite Commission findings that his behaviour in Moscow was "deplorable".

A Commission inquiry into the case has established that Mr Emerson set up business contacts while he was still working as ambassador which were "not in conformity with staff ethics", said a spokesman. He added: "This is deplorable but it does not justify legal proceedings against him."

The Commission clearly hopes that the controversy over the Emerson case, which has been severely embarrassing, will now evaporate. Mr Emerson's attempts to set up a private business in partnership with Russian entrepreneurs, while ambassador to Moscow, has undermined the credibility of EU foreign aid operations and fuelled often-voiced fears about the management of EU's massive foreign-aid budget. The official's well-publicised links with a female Russian translator, who joined him in his business ventures, have also raised questions about how EU officials are vetted for such senior jobs abroad.

The Commission yesterday fuelled the confusion by saying that the inquiry into the case was continuing. A senior Commission fraud investigator is understood to be currently in Moscow tracing Emerson's business links. Belgian police are continuing to investigate the case, and the European Parliament has threatened to block Russian aid funds.

The controversy over the Emerson case erupted two weeks ago, when a retired American airman, Marshall Michel, chose to make public what he knew about Mr Emerson's spare-time activities. Mr Michel's wife, Elena Prokhorova, a Russian translator, had recently left him to live with Mr Emerson. Whatever Mr Michel's motives, the quality of his evidence was not disputed by Mr Emerson or the Commission.

Mr Michel presented a series of letters, written by Mr Emerson and Ms Prokhorova to Russian business contacts, which talked of deals, arrangements for offshore bank accounts, and referred to "our consultancy company".

One of the letters referred to EU plans to launch a new aid programme in Kirgizia, where some of the business ventures were to be based.

As the EU's ambassador to Moscow Mr Emerson was responsible for over- seeing the spending of the EU's Russian aid programme, under which Ecu 1.87bn (pounds 1.5bn) has been spent in the past four years.

Under the EU's staff regulations there are strict rules against officials becoming involved in private business which could be deemed to be a conflict of interest. The dangers of such business contacts in Russia, where organised crime runs rife, have long been a matter of concern to EU fraud watchdogs in the Court of Auditors and in the European Parliament.

Yesterday a spokesman said Mr Emerson had not sought or been given permission for his activities. He added that should the on-going inquiry in the case reveal new cause for suspicion, Mr Emerson could still face disciplinary action, despite having been granted early retirement.

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
News
scienceScientists try to explain the moon's funny shape
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Shine Night Walk 2014 - 'On the night' volunteer roles

Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...

Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable)

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...

Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

Education Recruitment Consultant- Learning Support

£18000 - £30000 per annum + Generous commission scheme: AER Teachers: Thames T...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star