Director of Flanders House in New York fired
The Flemish Prime Minister has fired Philip Fontaine following reports of financial irregularities. Mr Fontaine is suspected of having diverted thousands of dollars worth of tax payers' money to a company he owns with his wife.
Philip Fontaine allegedly invoiced Flanders House for thousands of dollars for costly services to a company that he owned. The company, established by Mr Fontaine in 2003, organised a couple of events for Flanders House.
The problem of conflict of interests and diverted funds came to light in an article in the daily De Standaard earlier this week. The daily based the allegations on information from Jean-Marie Dedecker of the rightwing liberal party LDD.
There have also been reports of other problems at Flanders House, ranging from the failure to have correct insurance to poor working conditions for employees. There have been reports that the employees do not have health insurance, nor do they get paid vacation
When the allegations came to light PM Chris Peeters confirmed that a number of problems with Flanders House had been brought to his attention recently. He also promised to take appropriate steps.
After a meeting of the board of directors it emerged that this was not the only problem with Mr Fontaine’s behaviour. He allegedly failed to implement a number of orders given to him by the board and his personnel management was a farce.
PM Peeters talks of a breach of confidence, but found no concrete evidence of financial misappropriation.
Philip Fontaine was released from work immediately. He will still get 2 months salary.
The chairman of the board of directors is travelling to New York today to review the situation and restore order to Flanders House. After that a new director will be appointed.
For PM Peeters the role of Flanders House is very important to represent and promote Flemish interests in the United States.