Members of the European Parliament's inquiry into the collapse of Equitable Life have decided to ask for a further three-month extension to their mandate.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Committee the MEPs decided to ask the President of Parliament for a further three-month extension, which would see the Committee adopt its final report in time to present it to Parliament’s plenary before the summer break.
The Committee of Inquiry, set up in January 2006 and made up of 22 MEPs from across the EU, was originally given a year-long mandate to investigate the collapse of the insurer Equitable Life.
However, in its interim report published last June by Diana Wallis, Liberal Democrat MEP and rapporteur to the Committee, the group asked for a three-month extension to their inquiry, as the UK Parliamentary Ombudsman, Ann Abrahams, had announced a delay to her report into the Equitable crisis until at least October.
The Committee was given until April 2007 as a result to produce their report and have enough time to analyse any additional information resulting from the investigation of Abrahams.
But Abrahams second delay to her report was announced in October the investigation would not conclude until May next year, after her team discovered some evidence which “appeared to be of potential relevance to the matters under investigation had not been disclosed”.
Members of the EU inquiry at the time, including Wallis and chairwoman Mairead McGuinness, expressed their disappointment at the delay which meant their report would be published before that of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, with Wallis stating: “This so-called 'misunderstanding' is unfortunate to say the least. The Committee of Inquiry will consider the implications of this delay at its next meeting in November and will continue to carry out its mandate, regardless of this development."
Despite these comments, the Committee does not mention the delay in the publication of the Ombudsman’s report as a reason for seeking the extension to its mandate, instead it merely says the “amount of evidence currently being analysed, together with the complexity of the issues, mean more time is needed”.
The next meeting of the Committee will take place on 25 January 2007.
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