The European Commission has failed to tackle the root cause of the control failures that led to the resignation of the entire commission in March amid allegations of widespread fraud and mismanagement, whistleblower Paul van Buitenen told Accountancy Age this week. In an exclusive interview to mark the award of Accountancy Age's Personality of the Year title, van Buitenen - whose disclosure of accounting irregularities to the European Parliament at the end of last year led to the resignations - said the commission needed further reform. Speaking from his home near Brussels, van Buitenen said financial management issues within the commission still needed to be addressed. 'A lot of people think that everything in the European Commission is better now, but the real grass-roots reforms still have to take place. What is happening now is just window dressing and I hope that further reforms will be carried through in the European Commission,' he said. Van Buitenen, who was voted Personality of the Year by Accountancy Age readers, said he valued the award because it meant acknowledgement from fellow professionals. 'This prize is very important because it is a recognition by people in the accountancy profession that what I have done was right and was necessary. 'And I hope that a message will come out of it for the people within Brussels that I am not a marginal person who was difficult, but that I am a real whistleblower who followed the right procedures.' Van Buitenen said he had not sought personal gain from his revelations - the money from his recently published book is going into a whistleblowers' trust fund - and said he only approached the parliament when other routes failed. 'The staff regulations are very clear on this point. When there is a breach of criminal law then you can disobey the orders from your hierarchy, and that's what I did,' he said. Awards, page 4.
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