Antwerp Alderman cleared in investigation into financial misappropriation at De Lijn

Magistrates in Antwerp have decided that the socialist Alderman Tom Meeuws has no case to answer after an investigation into allegations of fraudulent activity with invoices at the public transport company De Lijn. The magistrates followed the recommendation made by the Judicial Authorities.         

In 2015, while Mr Meeuws was the Regional Director of De Lijn in Antwerp, he was responsible for the organisation of festivities to mark the opening of a major underground tram tunnel in Antwerp  known as “De Reuzenpijp”.

He was accused of having spent more than he was allowed to on the celebrations to mark the opening of the tunnel, something that cost him his job. When Mr Meeuws’ contract was terminated he and De Lijn both signed gagging orders preventing them from discussing the incident any further.

However, details of what had happened leaked out and the Green decided that they no longer wanted to form a cartel with the socialists in last year’s local elections.  

Criminal investigation

In March it emerged that a criminal investigation had been launched into alleged forgery, breach of trust and perverting a public tender process. It soon became clear that the investigation had been triggered by documents that had been passed on to the Judicial Authorities by the Flemish nationalist politician Marc Descheemaecker.

Mr Descheenmaecker is Chair of the Board of De Lijn. Mr Meeuws’ home was searched in April 2018. Then he disappeared into the shadows until the 2018 local election when he was elected to serve on Antwerp City Council for the socialists. The socialists joined the municipal coalition and Mr Meeuws was chosen by his party to service as an Alderman.       

The Examining Magistrate decided that there was no case to answer, a decision that has now been upheld by Antwerp Magistrates. However, Mr Meeuws isn’t out of the woods yet as De Lijn could still be awarded compensation from him. A decision on this is expected in February.     

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