FORMER EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy has resigned from the board of a fledgling British bank after being told it would conflict with his old role in Brussels.
This is the first time the Commission’s ethics committee has forced an ex-Commissioner to withdraw from such a role and it follows pressure over the past few weeks from MEPs and transparency groups.
Commissioners are asked not to take up any post for 12 months that could conflict with their previous job. It was unclear last night whether the ex-finance minister would take up the London position in February, a year after leaving the job where he began introducing EU-wide banking regulation.
The new enterprise, NBNK Investments, set up by a host of prestigious British businessmen, aims to establish a UK-wide bank buying up branches that banks have been forced to sell because of the crisis.
Mr McCreevy informed the commission of his new post in late July and about four weeks later was told that the ethics committee considered it was not appropriate. He spent the next few weeks making various suggestions, including working as a consultant for the new company. But finally he was told by the Commission’s secretary general, Catherine Day he faced a negative opinion by the end of October if he did not withdraw his request.
Commission sources said that late on Wednesday night Mr McCreevy told Ms Day he would withdraw his request and NBNK posted a statement on their website saying he had resigned with immediate effect.
Under the code of conduct former commissioners should not take jobs in sectors they worked on as commissioners. For a year after they leave Brussels, they are obliged to inform the ethics committee of their intention to take up a new job and give details of it.
But they are no longer obliged to inform them after a year, although a spokesperson said they were expected to respect the code of conduct about conflicts of interest for the rest of their lives. A spokesperson for NBNK could not clarify if Mr McCreevy aimed to return to the bank next year.
Labour MEP Nessa Childers has been calling for the ethics committee to enforce the code of conduct much more stringently.
The commission cleared him to sit on the board of Ryanair earlier this year for which he receives about €47,000, and he also has a ministerial and TD pensions of about €127,000.
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