Mr Reynders named in corruption investigation

Brussels prosecutors have launched a preliminary investigation into Deputy Premier Didier Reynders (Francophone liberal) in connection with corruption and money-laundering allegations.  Mr Reynders is set to become Europe’s new justice commissioner.

The investigation was triggered by a statement by a former member of Belgium’s intelligence service.  The intelligence officer worked for the economic section of the secret service for ten years. The allegations that Mr Reynders denies involve the Deputy Premier and a close collaborator.  They concern the construction of the Congolese embassy in Kinshasa (Congo), the tenancy contract for federal police HQ, bribery of weapons dealers and a Congolese presidential candidate. The monies were allegedly received or laundered via the purchase of antiques and real estate and transactions via tax havens.

Prosecutors stress that their investigation is a preliminary one.  There has been no need to appoint an examining magistrate, who can order telephone tapping and house searches.

Mr Reynders has not been officially informed of the allegations.  His spokesman speaks of a damaging operation.

The former intelligence officer contacted the judicial authorities a month ahead of last May’s general election.