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EU chief may launch a probe into heat scheme

By Staff Reporter

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager is considering launching a probe into Stormont's cash for ash scandal.

She is set to meet with Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson within the next few weeks about the matter.

Ms Anderson wrote to Ms Vestager requesting a full investigation into allegations of corruption around the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.

The Sunday Business Post reported yesterday that Ms Anderson made a complaint to Ms Vestager (below), writing to her that the scheme had been given the green light under EU state aid rules on the express condition that only 'useful' heat would be produced and that no incentive would be permitted for 'wasteful heat'.

"It is not yet clear what the full implications of the commission investigating the matter might be, but there may, for example, be consequences if it found that RHI breached the state aid rules," Ms Anderson told the Sunday Business Post.

"My meeting with the commissioner is to find out how aware the commission was of the RHI situation."

Last month it emerged that the PSNI is considering a request for the chief constable to investigate allegations of fraud in the RHI scheme.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir has outlined the details of the RHI inquiry including the Inquiry Chair and its terms of reference.

The minister has put in place an independent Inquiry Chair, retired Lord Justice of Appeal Sir Patrick Coghlin.

"I am very pleased Sir Patrick has agreed to lead the inquiry and I know that he will be unflinching in his pursuit of the truth and scrupulous in his analysis of the evidence," Mr O Muilleoir said in January.

Sir Patrick will be assisted by two panel members and independent assessors.

There is no intention to publish an interim report. Work was due to get under way on February 1 and will report as expeditiously as possible.

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