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Top politicians face new sleaze allegations

Published on 19/02/2004

19 February 2004

BRUSSELS – Some of Belgium’s top politicians are accused of receiving huge sums in illicit cash handouts used to fund their political activities and respective parties, newspaper La Derniere Heure reported on Thursday.

The allegations were made by Leon Lewalle, the ex-head of one of Belgium’s biggest mutual insurance groups, the Societe Mutuelle des Aministrations Publiques (Smap), now renamed Ethias.

Lewalle, currently standing trial on corruption charges dating back to his time as the SMAP’s boss, made the allegations in court on Wednesday.

Speaking through his lawyer, he said he had made payments to some of Belgium’s best known political figures as well as to political parties.

While he did not provide proof of his allegations the sums quoted corresponded “more or less” to money still not accounted for in the Smap’s coffers, La Derniere Heure reported.

Lewalle said he had given money to the following politicians:

Richard Carlier,  French speaking Socialist Party(PS) – BEF2.5 million (EUR61,973)
Guy Coeme (PS) – BEF 500,000 (EUR 12,395)
Jean-Maurice Dehousse (PS) – BEF 500,000 (EUR 12,395)
Jose Happart (PS) – BEF 500,000 (EUR 12,395)
Guy Mathot (PS)  – BEF 1 million (EUR 24,789)
Anne Marie Lizin (PS) – BEF 1 milllion (EUR 24,789)
Jean-Claude Van Cauwenberghe (PS) – BEF 2 million (EUR 49,579)
Melchior Wathelet, Social Christian Party (PSC) – BEF 1 million (EUR24,789)
Alain van der Biest (PS) – BEF 250, 000 (EUR 6,197)
Philippe Maystadt (PSC) – BEF 24 million, for the Social Christian Party (EUR 594,944)

He said he had made payments of BEF 6 million (EUR 148,736) apiece to the national office of the PS, the PS branch in the city of Liege and the Liberal Reform Party (PRL).

He also said he had made payments of BEF 5 million (EUR 123,947) to 25 smaller beneficiaries.

Lewalle insisted he did not benefit personally from any of the money transfers.

He said Belgium had no clear laws on the way political parties should be funded when he made the alleged payments.

The trial continues.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Belgian news