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EU anti-fraud body wants three EIB staff prosecuted
Three members of staff at the European Investment Bank (EIB) should face prosecution for misleading the bank during an investigation into the overpayment of education allowances, the EU’s anti-fraud office, OLAF, said in its latest annual report.
OLAF recommended “a judicial follow up" for three cases at the EIB it found in the probe, which uncovered that €1.6 million in educational allowances had been “incorrectly paid to 45 staff members” in total.
The EU's anti-fraud office recommended that the EIB take "disciplinary proceedings or other corrective measures" against 26 members of staff, who “did not accurately declare the situation of their dependents”. OLAF referred three cases to national prosecutors.
In the five years from 2016 to 2020, OLAF made more than 100 recommendations for disciplinary action against staff at a dozen EU bodies, according to the report, published last week.
One firm stood to win mass-testing contract, rivals say
Laboratories bidding for Luxembourg’s large-scale testing programme needed technology used only by the firm that won the contract, a requirement rivals say shut them out from gaining a job possibly worth more than €150 million.
The health ministry added the demand for companies keen to run the second, €56 million phase of an ambitious plan to trace unknown carriers of the virus, according to a copy of the tender requirements seen by the Luxembourg Times.
Companies had to use 175,000 tests produced by Fast Track Diagnostics, a spin-off from medical testing lab Laboratoires Réunis, the group that ultimately won the work. The tests were worth an estimated €2.4 million and Fast Track Diagnostics had already sold them to the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH).
Vacant dwellings inflate Luxembourg housing bubble
Thousands of housing units are standing empty in Luxembourg, a sign that real estate speculation is aggravating one of Europe's worst housing squeezes that is increasingly forcing less well-off residents out of the country.
Last year alone, house prices rose by close to 17% - despite the pandemic - boosted by rapid population growth and the Grand Duchy's solid economy.
Luxembourg does not have a law in place that obliges the national government and local authorities to register vacant housing units. Some 6% of all housing units in the country were currently vacant, the government estimated in March.
That number - based on data from the national statistics office Statec from 2011 - would mean close to 15,000 units without inhabitants.
Cargolux: riding the profits the pandemic delivered
There is no sign of an end to the good times at Cargolux, even the cautious CEO of the high-flying freight airline pushed into its industry’s top five this year must admit.
"We've had a pretty solid start to this year”, a relaxed and jeans-clad Richard Forson said in a Luxembourg Times interview at the company’s airport headquarters. "But how long the situation is going to last is really … everybody has their own idea”.
Cargolux posted record profits last year of $769 million (€636 million), a number that was more than 3 ½ times higher than its previous best mark of $211 million (€175 million) in 2018.
No new virus deaths in week for first time since September
Luxembourg continues to make strides in its fight against the pandemic despite a gradual easing of health restrictions, registering no new deaths and a 42% drop in new infections last week, official data showed on Wednesday.
There were just 12 people in hospital at the end of last week and two more in intensive care, the health ministry said on Wednesday. It was the first week that nobody died from Covid-19 since September.
As pressure on Luxembourg's hospitals eases, vaccinations reached a new record over the week, with more than 50,000 doses of a Covid vaccine dished out between 6 and 13 June, breaking the previous week's record of 44,000.