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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Ambassador's Dealings Spark Call for Investigation

A British member of the European Parliament has called for a full inquiry into the case of Michael Emerson, the former European Union ambassador to Russia accused of using his position in Moscow to further his private business interests and to award contracts to friends.


"What I fear is that the [European] Commission will sweep the whole thing under the carpet, and 12 months from now what they will say is, 'We did have an investigation, there was no evidence and we let the matter drop,'" Dr. Peter Truscott, Labour Party member of the European Parliament for Hertfordshire, said by telephone from Brussels on Wednesday.


"In the meantime, Mr. Emerson is enjoying his full pension rights, which is around about ?70,000 [$106,000] a year," Truscott said.


Emerson, 55, served as EU ambassador to Russia from 1991 to 1995. One of his main tasks was to administer the dispensation of some $900 million dollars in EU aid over that period through the TACIS, or Technical Assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States, program.


The commission began a secret investigation of Truscott on Feb. 4 after receiving copies of faxed correspondence between Emerson and Ilya Baskin, a prominent St. Petersburg businessman, The Sunday Times reported last month. Emerson confirmed that the two held "preliminary" discussions on forming a consultancy business in Kyrgyzstan.


Emerson insisted he had not established a formal business relationship with Baskin, the Times reported. Emerson's dealings came to light after he apparently left his wife, Barbara, and began an affair in Brussels with Yelena Prokhorova, who formerly worked at the commission's Moscow mission.


Nikolaus van der Pas, a spokesman for the commission, said by telephone Wednesday that the investigation of Emerson will continue, but said that thus far the police had not been contacted.


"The police have been investigating one of the persons involved, the lady involved, but we are not aware of any investigation which the Brussels police have started vis-?-vis Mr. Emerson himself," van der Pas said. "We have not received any request for lifting of immunity, which would be necessary to start such an investigation."


Truscott has called on the commission to bring in the European Court of Auditors to evaluate the books of the Russian TACIS program and to step up its own investigation. All results, he said, should be made public.