On eve of trans-Atlantic trade talks, EU Commission stands by trade chief in tax case

The European Union head office says it stands by its top trade official, Karel De Gucht, as he faces a tax court case in Belgium.

Belgian media are reporting tax authorities want some 900,000 euros ($1.2 million) from the De Gucht family relating to a sale of shares in 2005.

EU spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen said De Gucht told EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Friday he had done nothing wrong in the case, which should come to court later this month.

The latest stage of the scandal comes at a bad time, only days before Monday's opening of the latest round of trade talks with the United States on a far-reaching trade deal.