Fortis commission violates separation of powers

5th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

A panel of experts has caused great consternation by arguing that the parliamentary commission set up to look into the issue is unable to do its work.

The experts say that if the parliamentary commission were to continue its work it would violate the principle of the separation of powers in Belgium.

The Fortis parliamentary commission was set up to investigate whether this same principle was violated during the sale of Fortis last year.

The then Belgian Premier Yves Leterme (Flemish Christian democrat) and Belgian Justice Minister Jo Vandeurzen (Flemish Christian democrat) allegedly tried to influence the judiciary in connection with a legal procedure initiated by angry shareholders.

As its first task the parliamentary commission set up a panel of experts to examine the matter.

The experts were given three weeks in which to consider the issue, but after barely a week they reported that,  in their view, the work of the parliamentary commission itself violates the separation of powers.

The experts point out that the parliamentary investigation centres on a judicial procedure that is still underway.

Moreover they argue that investigating cases of the violation of the separation of powers is a matter for the High Justice Council.

The panel's report clearly raises great questions about the future of the parliamentary commission. On Wednesday morning the Belgian inner cabinet met to discuss the matter.

"Up to Parliament"

Belgium's inner cabinet on Wednesday decided not to get involved in the row between the panel of Fortis experts and the parliamentary commission investigating the Fortis debacle.

The Government says that parliament should decide what should happen next.

During their meeting on Wednesday afternoon all parties on the parliamentary commission made it clear that they wanted to pursue their enquiry despite the objections of the panel of experts.

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