February 14, 2009

Fake lobbyists registered with EU

An Italian prankster appears to have placed at least 13 fake organizations on the European Commission's register of lobbyists.

One of the faux outfits -- Fares Bank Ltd., which has an address on Harley Street in London -- would be the biggest spending organization on the Register of Interest Representatives if it existed, the EU Observer reports. Fares Bank reported that it spent 250 million euros (more than $320 million) lobbying the European Union and its organizations in 2008, more than 30 times the next biggest, the U.S. public relations giants Hill & Knowlton Inc. and Burston Marsteller.

Erik Wesselius of Corporate Europe Observatory, an organization that lobbies for greater transparency, said he discovered the Fares Bank entry by chance and found that the bank Web site is registered to Gennaro Ruggiero of Prato, Italy. He then found that Ruggiero is involved with at least 13 other organizations listed on the register.

It's just astonishing, Wesselius told the EU Observer. I don't know whether this guy is deliberately fiddling with the commission's registry, or has delusions of grandeur that he is some international banking genius or what.

While registration is voluntary, it does confer one benefit. Registrants get access badges to the European Parliament.