OM launches inquiry into LPF fraud claims
23 August 2004 , AMSTERDAM — On a day the populist LPF would probably want to forget, the Rotterdam public prosecutor announced it has launched an inquiry into possible accounting irregularities in the Dutch opposition party's finances.
23 August 2004
AMSTERDAM — On a day the populist LPF would probably want to forget, the Rotterdam public prosecutor announced it has launched an inquiry into possible accounting irregularities in the Dutch opposition party's finances.
A prosecution spokesman said OM justice officials are examining documents that former LPF party executive Henrick Fabius voluntarily handed over to police at the weekend, news agency nu.nl reported.
He said the "whistle blower" handed over the documents following what he believed were indications that party funds had been embezzled. The spokesman refused to identify the man, but Fabius confirmed on Monday he gave documents to the national police force KLPD after he was personally searched.
But Fabius said he had not lodged an official police report and the public prosecution denied the LPF had been raided. Justice officials are instead conducting a preliminary investigation and will decide at a later date if criminal proceedings will follow.
The case is being handled by the Rotterdam public prosecution office because the LPF is based in the port city.
The announcement came after LPF MPs publicly turned their back on the party executive on Monday, withdrawing their confidence in the board after Dutch media latched onto claims that the party was being investigated for fraud by the Dutch tax office.
With MPs scrambling to take control of the mounting crisis, parliamentary leader Mat Herben urged all party members, administrative staff and political representatives to remain loyal to the eight MPs.
A press statement on the LPF website said MPs will now examine how the party administration can continue in future and Herben said the will of party members will decide the LPF's future.
The statement came after MPs were briefed on Monday morning following a report in newspaper De Telegraaf claiming that the tax office's investigation service, FIOD-ECD, had raided party offices on Saturday.
De Telegraaf claimed that former LPF treasurer Hans Swarte had handed over the party's accounts to FIOD for investigation, having allegedly found "serious irregularities". The LPF was reportedly accused of fraud, embezzlement and money laundering.
MP Hilbrand Nawijn had initially believed that FIOD had in fact been given the accounts, having received word from an "LPF source" that Swarte had called in the tax office to conduct inquiries. Various news services picked up the story and made it headline news..
But FIOD denied that a raid had taken place or that it had been given party documents. Nawijn — a former government minister — has since declared also that any claims of an inquiry are incorrect.
As a special representative to the party executive, Nawijn had tried in vain to call an emergency meeting of LPF MPs, but instead emailed and telephoned MPs to discuss the escalating crisis.
He later informed the Dutch media that MPs had withdrawn their confidence in the battered party executive — a unique event in Dutch political history, news agency Novum reported.
It had earlier been reported on Monday that in the past three years, the LPF had received more then EUR 3 million in donations, loans and subsidies. Despite this, the party has a cash shortage to the tune of about EUR 200,000.
And according to De Telegraaf, EUR 100,000 that real estate magnate Ed Maas has loaned to the party — part of the in total EUR 1.3 million he has contributed to the LPF — has allegedly gone missing.
The LPF and Maas have since called on De Telegraaf to publish a correction and are demanding financial damages in the Amsterdam Court. De Telegraaf has refused to comment on the matter.
The latest LPF controversy comes after the party executive recently filed for bankruptcy, but Rotterdam Court rejected the application last week because party members had not approved of the move.
And three of the party's five executives — including chairman Fabius and treasurer Swarte — resigned on Friday.
Amid claims a new party might be established, MP Nawijn said the three executives who resigned might still be re-nominated later as candidates for a new party executive.
He could not confirm last week if the LPF would change its name, but said any new party would retain its Fortuyn-style ideology, news agency Novum reported.
The remaining two executives, Jan Belder and Sergej Moleveld, are in favour of the current LPF seeking to suspend repayments to creditors.
Fortuyn established the LPF in the lead up to the general election in May 2002. Amid a wave of emotion following his assassination at the hands of a lone gunman on 6 May 2002, the LPF was swept to power with 26 seats in the new coalition Christian Democrat CDA and Liberal VVD government.
Party infighting and a series of leadership battles led to the fall of the government by the year's end. The LPF was subsequently decimated in the January 2003 election and currently has eight MPs.
Following news of its bankruptcy application earlier this month, parliamentary leader Mat Herben said the move was the only way to get the party "organisationally, financially and communicatively" back on track.
The LPF was the first Dutch political party ever to apply for bankruptcy.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news