Thursday, July 7

The European Ombudsman investigates the transfer to the board of Iberdrola Spain of former EIB Vice President Emma Navarro

The European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, is investigating the move to Iberdrola Spain as a member of its board of directors of Emma Navarro, until then Vice President of the European Investment Bank (EIB). In response to the request of the MEPs of the Green group Ernest Urtasun (Catalunya en Comú) and Sven Giegold (German Greens), the Ombudsman has decided to open an investigation into the revolving doors case in Navarro: she joined the board of directors of Iberdrola a couple of months after leaving his post at the public bank.

This initiative comes after the European Parliament’s Economy Committee showed “serious concerns about the risk of conflict of interest” in the case of Emma Navarro, as well as written exchanges with the EIB requesting more information and investigating the case.

The MEP of En Comú Podem and vice-president of the Greens / ALE, Ernest Urtasun, commented: “We are pleased that the European Ombudsman answered our complaint by opening an investigation into this revolving door case. Iberdrola is one of the companies that most resources it has received from the EIB in recent years. Emma Navarro, as vice president in charge of credit operations in Spain, was directly responsible for operations of hundreds of millions of euros with Iberdrola. It is a case of revolving doors, which damages the reputation of the world’s largest public bank, the EIB. ”

Thus, this Wednesday the Ombudsman has responded to Urtasun and Giegold announcing that the complaint is “admissible”, so it has “decided to open an investigation.”

“To look at the whole matter,” O’Reilly says, “I have written to the EIB with questions and a request to examine the file.” In her letter to the EIB, the Ombudsman explains that “European institutions must adopt a firm attitude when assessing cases in which senior officials leave the EU administration to start working in the private sector.”

Therefore, the Ombudsman communicates: “I have decided to open an investigation into this complaint to examine the EIB’s decision to approve, with conditions, the new post of the former Vice President [Emma Navarro], which will involve an examination of the EIB’s ethical standards. “And he adds:” For the purposes of my investigation, it is necessary for my team to examine the documents in the EIB’s file on its decision to approve the former Vice President’s job application. ” .

O’Reilly considers it “useful to inspect all documents related to the interactions of the former Vice President with the EIB services; other members of the EIB Management Committee; members of the EIB Board of Directors; and representatives of the Iberdrola Group or representatives of any of the the companies that comprise it, including the companies subholding and the so-called head of business companies, in the context of the EIB financing negotiations with the Iberdrola Group during the term of the former vice president “.

“According to the EIB’s internal regulations,” explains Urtasun, “for 12 months, managers who leave the public bank cannot join private companies without the prior authorization of the Ethics Committee. The response received by the EIB regarding the evaluation that did was clearly insufficient and permissive. The restrictions that have been imposed in this case demonstrate the potential conflict of interest, so we do not understand that this incorporation was authorized during the period of cooling-off established in the bank’s own regulations. That is why we asked the Ombudsman to intervene. ”

The Ombudsman gives the EIB until October 15 to respond to her requests, and adds a series of questions for which she demands a response from the European Investment Bank: “When was the former Vice President offered the post? as a non-executive director of Iberdrola Spain and, since when did the former vice president become aware of a job opportunity at Iberdrola? Has the EIB’s board of directors delegated any of its functions to the management committee in relation to any of the financing agreements with the Iberdrola Group, or with any of the companies that comprise it during the term of the former vice president? If so, what were the terms and conditions of this delegation and how was its execution supervised? It is reported that the former vice president began her new work in December 2020, a few months after his departure on October 15, 2020. The EIB Steering Committee’s code of conduct includes a “period of reflection n “of a year. The EIB told the complainants that a comprehensive analysis of the context and potential conflict of interest situation related to the former Vice President’s planned new post was conducted on November 26, 2020, prior to the EIB’s decision to approve the conditions of the new post to the conditions? Did this analysis include the possible appearance of a conflict of interest, to which the aforementioned code of conduct also refers? ”

Urtasun adds: “It should be recalled that the Economic Committee of the European Parliament has expressed serious concerns regarding the specific case of conflict of interest of Emma Navarro and has asked the EIB that, to avoid conflicts of interest, it should be incorporated into the code of conduct of the EIB a provision that excludes the possibility for members of the EIB management to supervise the loan operations or the execution of projects in their country of origin “.