Dutch suspend development aid to Benin
The Dutch government on Wednesday suspended all development aid to Benin after alleging some four million euros ($4.5 million) earmarked for water projects disappeared from the west African country's coffers.
Dutch deputy development minister Lilianne Ploumen "immediately suspended developmental relations with the government of Benin because of a massive case of fraud," the Dutch foreign ministry said in a statement.
The move comes after Dutch authorities last year launched an audit into development aid spending in the tiny country wedged between Togo and Nigeria.
"Suspicions have now been confirmed," said the statement, issued in The Hague.
"An investigation found that four million euros in Dutch development funds have disappeared," from Benin's water affairs ministry.
"There has been spending without consent and newly-established businesses were handed large amounts of money," Ploumen said.
"I cannot allow this to happen. Therefore the Netherlands is stopping bilateral aid to the government of Benin until it takes concrete steps to tackle this fraud," Ploumen said.
The Netherlands is Benin's largest donor for projects relating to water development.
It has pumped an estimated 50 million euros into the impoverished country, with the EU contributing a further 20 million euros to supply clean drinking water.
© 2015 AFP