02.22.15

The EPO’s Sham ‘Internal Investigation’ of EPO Vice-President Željko Topić’s Affairs

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benoît Battistelli probing the Topić affair is akin to John Brennan probing CIA abuses

John Brennan

Summary: The EPO never investigated the Željko Topić affair, it only pretends to have investigated it (one small aspect, i.e. cherry-picking) using a Benoît Battistelli-controlled group

OUR ~70 articles about the EPO‘s management have so far shown misconduct and a lot of dark background when it comes to Željko Topić. They have demonstrated that EPO dissent is not to be attributed to few disgruntled employees but the institution as a whole, as well as outsiders, including some of the biggest stakeholders.

The so-called “internal investigation” of the EPO is worse than a sham. It’s a case of the EPO investigating itself, as the CIA has done after its staff had been cracking US Senate PCs — the same PCs used to investigate illegal CIA torture at the time. The EPO shows that it has become as unaccountable as the CIA. The “internal investigation” was more like a coverup and an attack on legitimate critics.

Let’s go back in time and see what this “internal investigation” actually involved. Here is Benoît Battistelli calling it “Defamation Campaign” [PDF] before the investigation even began! Way to go, Battistelli. You had given away your bias even before the “internal investigation” began. Here is what he posted internally:

Defamation Campaign against VP 4

26.02.2013

Note to All Staff

Over the past couple of days an obviously concerted effort has been made to attack the reputation and standing of the Vice-President of DG 4, Mr Topic. This has taken the form of anonymous letters being sent and/or made available to EPO employees.

In the face of this vicious campaign, I wish to make clear that the allegations are without any foundation. They have already been dismissed by the Croatian authorities. Furthermore, Mr Topic engaged legal proceedings some time ago in Zagreb, for criminal slander and defamation as well as for damages against parties who have published the allegations.

I believe that all EPO staff will deplore the events which have occurred and share my shock and sadness that the circumstances surrounding the anonymous letters – the postmarks, the forms of address and so on – clearly point to the involvement of persons with a connection to and precise knowledge of the EPO in Munich.

My duty is to defend every staff members by all legal means if they, through an attack to their dignity and integrity, become victims of harassment. But beyond this general principle, we cannot tolerate the behaviour of those who spread false and malicious rumours with impunity, the content of which clearly bears the mark of entrenched prejudice against our first Vice-President from a new member State.

Should any member of EPO staff be found to have played a role in the cowardly anonymous attacks against Mr Topic, he she or they will be called to account.

Benoît Battistelli
President

It was only 4 months later that there was an update on this, so one might think that a thorough investigation took place, probing Topić’s very notorious background in Croatia. But no. Look what took 4 months. Florian Andres wrote Communique PD 0/6 [PDF], stating:

The investigation demonstrated that all aspects of the allegations pertaining to an alleged falsification of academic credentials are baseless.

That’s it? It does nothing at all to dispel the allegations about the Vice-President and instead deals with just one dubious aspect relating to his academic degree, extrapolating this to imply that he is totally innocent just because he didn’t fabricate his diploma. It’s like a straw man.

Communique No. 29 [PDF] was published on the very same date. Repeating this, Battistelli did a “me too”post:

The investigation concludes that the accusations concerning Mr Topic’s academic qualifications are entirely without foundation.

Ah, all right! Topić is therefore a Saint. As if that was the only accusation against him.

“It’s like a straw man.”This actually goes deeper than this and thanks to an unnamed source we are now in possession of additional [PDF] documents [PDF]. Our source says: “We are informed that Dr. Peter Gauweiler a member of the German Bundestag (Federal Parliament) from the Bavarian CSU submitted a query to the German Ministry of Justice in October 2013.

“According to our information, he received the following response:

«Die gegen Herrn Željko Topić erhobenen Vorwürfe sind dem Bundesministerium der Justiz – aufgrund mehrerer anonymer Schreiben – bekannt. Im Ergebnis ist es dem Bundesministerium der Justiz jedoch nicht möglich zu klären, ob die Vorwürfe letztlich begründet sind. Nach Auskunft des Europäischen Patentamtes hat allerdings in dieser Angelegenheit der Präsident des Europäischen Patentamts interne Ermittlungen aufgenommen und sogar einen Vertreter nach Kroatien entsandt, um unmittelbar vor Ort Nachforschungen zu betreiben. Nach hiesigem Kenntnisstand haben diese Ermittlungen keine Anhaltpunkte für etwaige Verfehlungen ergeben.»

Translation:

“The Federal Ministry of Justice is aware of the allegations which have been raised against Mr. Željko Topić as a result of a number of anonymous letters. Ultimately, however, it is not possible for the Federal Ministry of Justice to determine whether or not there is any substance to these allegations. Nevertheless, according to information provided by the European Patent Office, the President of the EPO initiated internal investigations into the matter and even dispatched a representative to Croatia to carry out enquiries locally. According to the information currently available to us, these investigations did not yield any evidence of possible irregularities.”

But wait, they did nothing to address allegations about corruption by Topić. They cherry-picked just one aspect of many.

Our source’s observations are as follows:

1. The German Ministry of Justice seems to have a surprisingly poor level of geographical knowledge. The EPO investigators were sent to the University of Banja Luka which is actually in Bosnia & Hercegovina, not Croatia! This is because Topić who is apparently an ethnic Croat and pursued a career in the Croatian civil service, was originally born in Banja Luka in Bosnia & Hercegovina prior to the breakup of the former Republic of Yugoslavia. He studied at the University there before moving to Zagreb in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Thus allegations relating to his claim to have an MBA from the University of Banja Luka had to be investigated in Bosnia & Hercegovina – not Croatia.

2. The EPO’s internal investigation was restricted to just one specific aspect of the allegations against Topić, namely allegations concerning irregularities in his claimed academic qualifications. The various other allegations raised against Topić have never been subject to any investigation by the EPO.

3. The EPO’s internal investigation was carried out by the so-called “Internal Audit” department which is directly under Battistelli’s control. Given that Battistelli sponsored Topić’s candidacy as Vice-President, there is a clear conflict of interest here. This investigation cannot realistically be considered as an independent investigation.

4. In fact, in February 2013, Battistelli had already informed EPO staff that all allegations against Topić were completely baseless and without foundation. This claim was made by Battistelli before any internal investigation had been carried out! He also claimed that all of the allegations had been dismissed by the Croatian authorities. This is complete hogwash as a number of the alleged irregularities are the subject of pending court proceedings in Croatia.

5. The EPO’s Administrative Council was informed about Battistelli’s internal investigation at its meeting in June 2013. They apparently accepted these findings at face value and didn’t ask any questions.

The above assertions were made completely independently from Techrights, which, having received copies of these messages some time last year, reached the conclusions in (2) and (4) above, namely that it’s a biased ‘investigation’ with pre-determinded outcome of only one aspect among many. Any person with some knowledge of the Topić affair would have seen this charade for what it is because it is very shallow. Battistelli showed a very low degree of sophistication here; his attempt to whitewash Topić is self-undermining and misguided. It helps show just how corrupt this system of pseudo-oversight has truly become. If only Battistelli can invoke ‘investigation’ of his own cronies, then what kind of investigation can that ever be?

In one of the newly-presented exhibits (above) refer to the documents of “SUMMARY OF DECISIONS of the 136th meeting of the ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL”, specifically item 1.7 (emphasis added):

11. Meeting in restricted composition, without the observers and the staff and Office representatives (apart from the President), the Council

· took note of the results of an investigation recently conducted by the independent [sic] Internal audit. This investigation concerned the Vice-President DG 4, appointed by the Council.

· addressed broad issues pertaining to the social situation and the social dialogue. The Council reiterated its full support to the President in his endeavours to achieve reasonable and balanced measure.

The Internal Audit department is not “independent”, it is directly under the control of the EPO President. These inadequacies in the “internal investigation” carried out by the EPO were subsequently commented on in the Croatian press in an article published in October 2013 [PDF].

Putting aside the summary, see “MINUTES of the 136th meeting of the ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL Munich, 26 and 27 June 2013″ (the other new document) and refer to Item 1.7 on page 8/48 (emphasis added):

41. Meeting in restricted composition, without the observers and staff and Office representatives (apart from the President), the Council

- noted the outcome of a recent independent enquiry by Internal Audit concerning Vice-President DG 4, a Council appointee, and noted with great satisfaction that the enquiry had shown that all allegations against him were unfounded, and expressed every sympathy for him

- addressed various questions relating to the social situation and social dialogue, and reiterated its full support for the President in searching for reasonable and balanced measures.

Observations made by our source are as follows:

1. The minutes of the AC meeting refer to “a recent independent enquiry by Internal Audit”.

This is complete nonsense because, as we mentioned previously, the Internal Audit department is not “independent”. It is directly and exclusively under Battistelli’s control.

The appointment and replacement of the Head of Internal Audit lies completely within Battistelli’s discretion.

2. The AC “noted with great satisfaction that the enquiry had shown that all allegations against him were unfounded”.

More nonsense. The enquiry purported to have established that one specific allegation relating to Topić’s academic qualifications was unfounded. It made no attempt to investigate any other allegations against him.

There has been no further investigation of the matter by the AC since June 2013.

So, the above represents the official EPO position, i.e. an “independent” internal investigation has (allegedly) established that all allegations against Topić are unfounded.

So as far as the AC is concerned, the matter is closed.

The funny thing about all this is that before any investigation was ever carried out, Battistelli had already announced more or less the same result to EPO staff in a note issued on 26 February 2013:

“… I wish to make clear that the allegations are without any foundation. They have already been dismissed by the Croatian authorities.”

Unfortunately Battistelli never bothered to explain which “Croatian authorities” he was relying on for this assertion which appears to be incorrect.

According to in the formation which we have from reliable sources in Zagreb, a number of lawsuits, including both criminal and civil proceedings, are pending against Topić in Croatia.

In conclusion, Battistelli is a tyrant, a liar, and a revisionist. He is eager to deceive his own staff by protecting thugs whom he uses for ‘protection’.

We have a lot more coming about Topić. We received another large heap of documents and half a gigabyte of videos last night.

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This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2015/02/22/the-epo-topic-affair-coverup/

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