Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders, who is also a candidate for EU commissioner for justice, has been accused of corruption and money laundering.
Two Belgian newspapers L’Echo and De Tijd reported the initial investigation by the prosecutor’s office. the allegations were made by a former security agent who in April told law enforcement agencies that Reynders was involved in corruption.
According to the agent, the irregularities concern the construction of the Belgian embassy in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The allegations relate to accepting bribes for the favorable outcome of tenders and awarding contracts to relevant companies. Arms dealers and a DRC presidential candidate were named by the agent as being involved in the schemes.
According to the accusations against Reynders, money was received or laundered via the purchase of antiques and real estate, some in transactions involving tax havens.
Reynders said last weekend he was not aware of the preliminary investigation that has been opened against him.
“I learned this morning. I have no information that the investigation has been going on for months,” Reynders said on Saturday morning in an interview with RTBF.
He said he has asked his lawyer to contact the Belgian newspapers L’Echo and De Tijd, who published the information about the investigation last weekend, to “deny the allegations that have been disseminated”.
“This is all no doubt another ruse by the same malicious individual who is constantly trying to do him harm, said Reynders’ spokesman John Hendrickx.
Reynders has been a minister in various departments for 20 years without interruption. He has served as minister of foreign affairs and defence since a minority government was formed in Belgium after the collapse of the coalition earlier this year.