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3 December 2004
AMSTERDAM — Prince Bernhard reportedly admitted years before his death that he accepted a bribe from US plane manufacturer Lockheed in the 1970s to influence the Dutch government's purchase of a new fighter jet.
Bernhard allegedly made the admission during a series of interviews with Martin van Amerongen from 1995 to 2002.
Van Amerongen — the former chief editor of magazine De Groene Amsterdammer — died in 2002. Shortly before his death, he wrote a memorandum of the interviews. It was agreed the memorandum would only be published after Bernhard's death.
The prince, 93, died on 1 December and De Groene Amsterdammer is to publish the article next week.
Referring to the Lockheed affair, Bernhard told Van Amerongen that he did not know what had possessed him at the time. "I have always earned a lot of money, so I didn't really need that million from Lockheed. How could I have been so dumb?"
"I have actually plenty of money. My money is divided over three countries: The Netherlands, America and Switzerland. In Switzerland alone, I have six million in the bank".
According to public broadcaster NOS, the prince told Van Amerongen that he never saw the majority of the million dollars offered to him by Lockheed and he gave the rest away.
"But that doesn't make any difference to history. I have reconciled myself to the fact the word 'Lockheed' will shortly be carved on my tombstone," he said.
The government information service RVD declined to comment on the revelations.
As prince-consort to the then Queen Juliana, German-born Bernhard did not have any official role under the Dutch Constitution.
Building on his good military record in World War II, Bernhard carved out a role for himself as an unofficial business ambassador for the Netherlands in the post-war years. By the 1970s, he had served on the boards of up to 300 companies and was inspector of all branches of the military.
An investigation in the US into alleged bribes paid by Lockheed to influence foreign governments to buy one of its fighters indicated that a highly-placed person in the Netherlands had been paid USD 1.1 million. Suspicion immediately focused on Bernhard.
This caused consternation in the Netherlands and the subsequent scandal and commission of inquiry almost led to Queen Juliana abdicating.
Eventually, a compromise report was published which severely criticised Bernhard's manner of doing business. But it said there was no hard evidence that he had received the money.
When questioned by the media about the scandal at the time, Bernhard said he did not have to answer any questions.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news
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