Ex-MEP 'still owes European funds'
Six years after a former Ukip MEP left the European Parliament, the authority is still trying to recover more than a quarter of a million pounds in expenses that he wrongly claimed, a court heard.
Ashley Mote, 79, is accused of committing a string of fraud-related offences and using the gains to fund his courts battles in the UK.
It is alleged that he submitted numerous false claims for Parliamentary Assistance Allowance, for payment for work that organisations had carried out on his behalf.
Jurors at London's Southwark Crown court heard today that the European Parliament has been trying to recover some of the money from Mote since 2011.
The authority found that it was owed around £266,000 - £11,400 of which was paid into the account of Edward Hayes solicitors, and 355,000 euro into a Danish account for "Information Centrim OS" (ICOS) - and rejected Mote's appeals against the decisions.
Prosecutor Jonathan Davies asked Frank Antoine, the head of the unit for general financial management of the European Parliament - in charge of overseeing expenses claims, if Mote had paid back any of the money.
He replied "no", adding that several letters and emails had to be sent to the former MEP before he replied.
Mr Antoine said: "At last then we had a reaction from Mr Mote saying that he is not liable, and so we are still in the process of recovering this amount (£11,400)."
Mr Davies then asked the witness about inquiries his department had made with the European anti-fraud office about their investigations into the payment of 355,000 euro.
"As a result of what you learned, did you ask Mr Mote to provide an explanation of what it was Mr Mote was doing?"
Mr Antoine said this was correct and added that a letter was subsequently sent to Mote informing him that he was required to repay the sum. When asked if the amount - some £254,000 - had been recovered, Mr Antoine said "no".
The rules of the European Parliament expenses stated that it is incumbent upon the member to prove that they have used the amount awarded by the Parliamentary Assistance Allowance in accordance with the rules, jurors heard.
Mote denies a total of 11 offences alleged to have taken place between November 2004 and July 2010. The prosecution claims that he dishonestly obtained approximately 355,000 euro and £184,000 of allowances to which he was not entitled.
Between 2004, when he was elected MEP and 2009, Mote claimed a total of £750,000 in Parliamentary Assistance Allowance - taking into account his legitimate claims and any alleged fraudulent activity.
Mote was elected as a Ukip MEP for south east England in 2004, but shortly before he actually took up his seat was thrown out of Nigel Farage's party because he was being prosecuted by the Department for Work and Pensions for benefit fraud.
However, he sat as an independent MEP until 2009, when he decided not to stand for election.
Mote, from Binsted in Hampshire, denies four counts of obtaining a money transfer by deception, three of false accounting, two of fraud, and one each of acquiring criminal property and concealing criminal property.