Italian prankster spams EU lobbyist registerThe European Commission's voluntary online register of Brussels lobbyists has been hijacked by a mysterious mischief-maker who registered a string of seemingly fake companies.
Foremost amongst them is the "Fares Bank Ltd" of Harley Street, London, which is supposed to have spent €250 million on lobbying EU institutions in 2008, immediately making it the biggest spender in the Register of Interest Representatives, a database of public relations companies, law firms, NGOs and think-tanks.
The vast sum looks all the more outlandish when put next to the two largest real lobbying outfits in Brussels, Hill & Knowlton, which had a turnover of about €8 million and Burston Marsteller on €7 million.
"If any old fool can sign up to the registry and post whatever they want, without somebody seriously monitoring the data that's in there, what is the registry worth?" Mr Wesselius added.
"How do we know that Hill & Knowlton also has actually spent €8 million? Who's checking up on it? How can anybody trust any of the data the registry contains?"