Former EU commissioner Neelie Kroes acted "in good faith" when she failed to declare her directorship of an offshore company in the Bahamas, thinking that the firm had been dissolved, Dutch media on Thursday quoted her lawyer as saying.
Kroes has been caught up in the latest tax scandal uncovered by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which late Wednesday disclosed that she was among politicians named in leaked files from the Bahamas about offshore companies.
Kroes served in the European Commission, the European Union's executive, from 2004 to 2014, first as competition commissioner - where she earned the nickname "Steely Neelie" - and then as commissioner for digital affairs.
In those positions, Kroes failed to disclose that she was listed as the director of Mint Holdings - a company registered in the Bahamas - from 2000 to 2009, the ICIJ found.
"Formally, Mrs Kroes violated the rules when she did not report this post," her lawyer, Oscar Hammerstein, told the daily newspaper Trouw. "She is ready to bear the consequences."
But he also argued that "she acted in good faith," saying the holding company was ordered dissolved in 2002, but that this had never taken place and had not been discovered until 2009.
Kroes received no money for the post, had no shares in Mint Holdings and never did anything for the company, Hammerstein said.
Mint Holdings was set up by Jordanian businessman Amin Badr-El-Din, a friend of Kroes, to manage an ultimately unsuccesful acquisition of assets from former US energy giant Enron, the ICIJ said.