RealTime IT News

Fraud in Europol's IT Department Linked to Lernout & Hauspie

Europol, the European police force headquarted in The Hague, is experiencing its first scandal.

According to information from the news magazine "Der Spiegel," this week the Dutch police took the head of Europol's IT department, Nicolas Pougnet, temporarily into custody. The high-ranking Europol officer has been accused of serious fraud and document falsification. An internal department investigation had revealed that at least DM 250,000 of money designated for new computer systems was siphoned off into private foreign accounts, according to Europol. Some of the accounts are supposedly held with offshore companies in the Bermudas.

The IT expert, whose immunity has since been revoked, also had contact with the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND). In projects for speech recognition systems, he cooperated with BND employees specializing in that area, who invested money in the dubious Belgian speech technology company, Lernout & Hauspie. The founder of L&H has since been imprisoned following an accounting scandal.

Another involved Europol officer now works as a policeman in Albania. The Dutch courts must now also investigate whether Europol money was put aside for this secret service connection as well. The scandal comes at a very bad time for the Europol management, because Europol would like to extend its jurisdiction. Some EU member states would like to see Europol expand into a European FBI.