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Thursday, July 1, 1999 Published at 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK

World: Europe

Bangemann: Going out with a bang

Mr Bangermann: Once accused of poor attendance

European Union Commissioner Martin Bangemann, who has caused a political storm after accepting a top job in private industry, is no stranger to controversy.

The industry commissioner was in trouble several years ago for taking hefty payments for speaking engagements - a perk which was then outlawed for commissioners.

EU in crisis
And he was accused of abusing his authority after getting his commission chauffeur to drive his commission limousine to southern France to meet him at his yacht.

A few years ago he called a press conference to rebut claims from one of his colleagues of poor attendance at commission meetings.

But he is perhaps best known in Britain as the man who tried to ban prawn cocktail flavoured crisps and the traditional English sausage.

Six figure salary

Now he is moving from his £120,000-a-year ($180,000) commission job to a post with Spain's Telefonica telecommunications company, understood to carry a £700,000-a-year ($1.1m) salary.

The former German economy minister, dubbed ''bulky Bangemann'', served two terms with the commission including a stint as vice president.

As industry commissioner he was responsible for telecommunications issues in Europe.

All 20 commissioners resigned in March following allegations of fraud and mismanagement, but they remain on the Brussels' payroll.

The commission is carrying on in an acting capacity until September while President-designate Romano Prodi gets his new team together.

'He's our Ronaldo'

Mr Bangemann, 64, will be remembered for his role in liberalising the telecoms industry during his time at the commission.

His new post will see him acting as an adviser to Juan Villalonga, chairman of Telefonica, one of the world's biggest telecoms companies.

Mr Bangemann, who does not speak Spanish, will be involved in drawing up strategy, defining new products, identifying markets and choosing local partners, the firm said.

Mr Villalonga, who is nominating Mr Bangemann to the company's board of directors, said his long experience as an EU commissioner would be invaluable to the company. "He's our Ronaldo," he added, referring to the Brazilian soccer star.

Mr Bangemann, who is married with five children, started his career as a lawyer and served as a member of the German Bundestag before moving to the commission.

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