The failings of EU audit controls that enabled a French company to sell 6,750 tonnes of Irish intervention butter in Poland, when it should have been released into the USSR market, would not be repeated again, European commissioners have claimed. Addressing a European Parliament budgetary committee inquiry into the Fléchard case, agriculture commissioner Franz Fischler said that the creation of OLAF as an independent anti-fraud agency and of new internal audit controls within the European Commission would have helped prevent the problems. Budget commissioner Michaele Schreyer said: “Clearly we would have acted differently today.” The case was brought to an end in 1994, when the Irish authorities accepted a payment of ECU (Euro) 3 million from Fléchard.

By Keith Nuthall, correspondent