Brussels/Vienna - Former Austrian interior minister Ernst Strasser resigned from the European Parliament on Sunday, after the Britain's Sunday Times newspaper accused him of having accepted cash to change draft European Union laws.
Former Austrian interior minister Ernst Strasser
Strasser was shown to have accepted to work with two undercover reporters posing as lobbyists who offered willing EU deputies an annual 'consultancy fee' of 100,000 euros (141,000 dollars) in return for working towards watering down financial sector regulation.
'I have decided to take this step because there was a campaign against me in Austria,' he told the APA news agency.
Austrian Deputy Chancellor Josef Proell, the leader of Strasser's OeVP conservative party, had called for him to go.
Former Romanian deputy prime minister Adrian Severin and former Slovenian foreign minister Zoran Thaler - both Socialists - were also exposed by the Sunday Times as having accepted cash payments in return for introducing amendments to legislation.
European Parliament spokesman Jaume Duch said that Diana Wallis, a British liberal democrat and one of the EU assembly's vice presidents, has ordered an inquiry into the scandal.
'The allegations made by the Sunday Times are serious and the European Parliament takes them seriously,' he told the German Press Agency dpa.
Transparency International - an anti-corruption campaign group - urged the EU parliament to adopt a more rigorous code of conduct for its members.
'Without such credible measures preventing conflicts of interests and corruption at the EU level, institutions such as the parliament risk the undermining of European democracy and further loss of trust of EU citizens in their work,' it said in a statement.