Socialist politician faces trial over 'secret' bank account

29th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

29 September 2005, BRUSSELS – A member of the French-speaking socialist party is to face trial for keeping an offshore secret bank account with cash from one of Belgium's biggest political scandals.

29 September 2005

BRUSSELS – A member of the French-speaking socialist party is to face trial for keeping an offshore secret bank account with cash from one of Belgium's biggest political scandals.

On Thursday, Patrick Moriau, a deputy mayor of Chapelle-lez-Herlaimont in Wallonia, said he would appeal against the decision to prosecute him for handling stolen goods and money laundering.

The charges go back as far as 1998 and relate to the early 1990s when Moriau was the socialist (PS) secretary general.

It is alleged that, after taking over as secretary general, Moriau put EUR 625,000 into a secret bank account.

Investigators believe the money came from the 'Agusta affair' which saw members of the socialist party accepting backhanders for a contract to buy helicopters for the Belgian armed forces.

Moriau allegedly received the money from his predecessor and put it into an account in Luxemburg, which was not declared to the Belgian tax authorities.

A while later, he is charged with using the funds for various expenses and donations, including one made to South African leader Nelson Mandela. No records were kept of the transactions.

Formally accused in 1998, Moriau's trial has been delayed since he was elected to the Belgian parliament which meant he received parliamentary immunity.

It was also widely expected that Moriau's trial would be suspended. On Wednesday, for instance, it was announced that his colleague Fernand Detaille, who was also responsible for PS finances, would not face trial.

Moriau has admitted to opening the account in Luxemburg but claims he did so in good faith and did not personally benefit from the money.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news

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