Ex-minister denies promising RDM compensation

1st September 2004, Comments 0 comments

1 September 2004, AMSTERDAM — A Dutch businessman — once tipped by Pim Fortuyn as a potential minister in a populist government — has claimed his now-struggling company was promised compensation to entice it to pull out of a controversial submarine deal.

1 September 2004

AMSTERDAM — A Dutch businessman — once tipped by Pim Fortuyn as a potential minister in a populist government — has claimed his now-struggling company was promised compensation to entice it to pull out of a controversial submarine deal.

Senior Liberal VVD party figure Jozias van Aartsen has dismissed Joep van den Nieuwenhuyzen's statement as "nonsense". Finance Minister and VVD leader Gerrit Zalm has backed Van Aartsen's denial.

The compensation claim is the latest instalment in a major controversy surrounding Van den Nieuwenhuyzen's Rotterdam firm RDM.

Earlier this week, the director of Rotterdam Port, Willem Scholten, lost his job when it emerged he secretly agreed a EUR 100 million loan guarantee for the firm.

Germany's Commerzbank and Britain's Barclays Bank are now looking for the money to be repaid and there are fears Rotterdam Port might have to pick up the bill.

It has been suggested, but not confirmed, that the loan was in connection to a deal to sell submarines to Taiwan.

Van den Nieuwenhuyzen has claimed Van Aartsen — who was the Dutch Foreign Minister from 1998 to 2002 — promised the government would compensate RDM if it backed off from a controversial deal to supply the submarines to Taiwan.

He said China had threatened to impose economic sanctions on the Netherlands if the deal went ahead.

Following the Communist victory on the mainland in 1949, two million Chinese Nationalists fled to Taiwan and established a government using the 1946 constitution drawn up for all of China.

China has considered Taiwan to be a breakaway province ever since and has threatened it will consider military action if Taiwan declares full independence.  Beijing always raises objections to international sales of sophisticated weaponry to the island.

Van Aartsen's former ministerial spokesman has said that businessman Van den Nieuwenhuyzen wanted an export licence to sell submarines to Taiwan. When the minister refused, he demanded compensation and the minister again turned him down, the spokesman said.

Dutch policy rules out selling weapons to Taiwan.

Van Nieuwenhuyzen threatened to bring the designs for the submarines to the US and have Washington sell the submarines to Taiwan. Van Aartsen allegedly pointed out that the Dutch government was co-owner of the designs.

In 2001, the US supplied several sophisticated weapons systems to Taiwan, including eight submarines. It is unclear if they were based on the Dutch submarine designs.

Before his assassination in 2002, populist politician Pim Fortuyn was asked who he would consider for the Cabinet if his LPF party won the balance of power. He named Van den Nieuwenhuyzen

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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