BRUSSELS Dec 21 The EU executive reprimanded
ex-commissioner Neelie Kroes on Wednesday for not declaring
income that would effectively have reduced her pension, but
stopped short of legal action after quickly recouping the money.
The European Commission said it had accepted an apology from
Kroes in a separate matter, in which its ethics committee
investigated her after a leak of Bahamas records showed she had
failed to declare a directorship in an offshore company there.
On the financial issue, Kroes notified the EU nine months
late about income in 2015 that should have been offset from a
"transitional allowance" she was receiving after leaving office.
Kroes, 75, a former Dutch government minister, spent 10
years at the Commission until late 2014 under then-president
Jose Manuel Barroso, as antitrust chief and then commissioner
for digital affairs.
In August, she irked the executive, now headed by
Jean-Claude Juncker, by criticising its demand for a record $14
billion from Apple Inc to repay illegal subsidies. As Kroes was
an adviser to another Silicon Valley titan, Uber, her
intervention was seen by critics as a conflict of interest with
her previous roles.
After newspapers published leaked Bahamas documents on Sept.
21 showing Kroes had been a director of a company there since
2000, Juncker ordered an ethics inquiry.
That found she had breached the code of conduct, but
accepted her apology for not realising that she still held the
unpaid post when she took office in 2004.
On Sept. 20, according to a Commission document, Kroes
contacted its payments department to report income for 2015. She
had declared in January that she had no such income.
Commissioners are entitled to a "transitional allowance" of
up to about 13,000 euros ($13,500) a month for three years after
leaving office. But if, adding income from other activities,
they earn more than the monthly salary of a serving commissioner
- about 20,000 euros - the allowance is capped accordingly.
"The Commission, on the basis of the information provided
belatedly by Ms. Kroes, recovered immediately the money," read
the Commission's legal decision published on Wednesday.
Juncker has proposed tighter ethics rules for commissioners
following criticism in a number of other cases, notably that of
Barroso, who took a job at the U.S. bank Goldman Sachs, fuelling
criticism that the EU was run by an out-of-touch elite beholden
to global business.
(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; @macdonaldrtr; Editing by