Our good foreign minister, Didier Reynders, is fantastic. He has just lost the elections in Brussels and Wallonia where he was supposed to defend the votes of French-speaking voters. But here he comes out of the palace with the role of informant in the company of his friend Vande Lanotte. The two partners appear in the case of Libyan funds frozen by the UN, Reynders is suspected of having improperly released the interest (2 billion euros) and through retro-commissions to have sold them to Libyan militias. The latter would have transformed this money in part into an order for weapons taken off from Ostend airport(1) which Vande Lanotte directed for years…
Despite the clear will of the Belgian people to change their leaders, the palace decides to put two old party leaders who lost the elections and were suspected in corruption cases in the position of informant. However, Reynders has also been running for the position of Secretary General of the Council of Europe for months (Editor’s note: he did not get it in the end). Why this rather dull candidacy for someone so ambitious… Is it the 33.000€ net of taxes or the immunity that goes with this function, that attracts our man? Finally, some people are wondering about the proximity of our minister to the Russians and their situation in the Council of Europe: on leaving, they might be tempted to put a man of their own at the head of the institution to keep an eye on it.
Nevertheless, the future scandal of the Belgian state does not lie in these elements but in the very surprising function of our Minister of Foreign Affairs: Minister of Defense. A reminder: at the beginning of the legislature, it was a pure N‑VA who held the position, Steven Vandeput. It was also he who in haste ordered 34 F‑35 fighter jets to replace our F‑16s. For a total of 15 billion €… His deputy chief of staff was named almost like him, Simon Put. This last one went into « the annals » in 2015 because, at the time, the security and the SGRS wondered if he was not working for the Russians. So much so, that the military intelligence service had refused to give him his security clearance(2). Was he a double agent or did he turncoat? Still, to everyone’s amazement, he suddenly became a lobbyist for Lockheed Martin, which makes the F‑35, in the spring of 2018(3). When it comes to neutrality, we can do better.
The departure of the N‑VA government left the post of Minister of Defence vacant. Logically, this position should have gone to Denis Ducarme, who was a member of the National Defence Commission, of which he is Vice-Chairman. But this was forgetting the Reynders system and his faithful personal tax collector, Jean-Claude Fontinoy(4). Defense seemed to be the ideal place to earn kickbacks not only on the F‑35 market but also on all the related markets: missiles, spare parts, infrastructure, etc. In addition, several key military contracts were on the horizon: new mine hunters (€2 billion), new armored vehicles for the land component (CAMMO program for €1 billion) and finally drones (Predator B for €227 million)
In this great corruption fair, some names are interesting to record because there is a good chance you will hear them again:
- Michael Mitchell, the clear winner. He was a former RAF pilot, living in Huldenberg and married to a Belgian countess, Diane des Enffans d’Avernas. He is the head of the structures that won both the F‑35 and CAMMO contracts. Needless to say, 2018 has been the « year of the euromillion » for him.
- Trudo Motmans, general manager of Asco, the former Boas family company. The latter has been closely linked to the arms markets in Belgium since the time of Paul Vanden Boeynants. The company has been in the aerospace business for years and, conveniently, its American competitor bought it out for €542 million in 2018(5). Motmans remained Vice-Chairman of Asco, after the sale by the Boas family. He is president of Agoria Vlaanderen and president of Flag (the Flemish grouping of defense industries.) He is said to be very close to the N‑VA…
- Joy Donné, chief of staff of Jan Jambon at the Ministry of the Interior. This is the man who drove Bart De Wever in a Porsche Carrera with two different plates to the MR office in 2014. There he tore up a police ticket in front of the cameras(Humo of 26-08-2016). He served for ten years at the Régie des Bâtiments under Jean-Claude Fontinoy, during which time he was taught the subtleties of the art of corruption.
- Jos Vanschoenwinkel, defense advisor of the N‑VA, former mirage pilot in the Belgian Air Force. The old ones will remember that returning from a fiesta in Liege, the person concerned had prematurely lit the engine of his plane in his bunker. The bikes of the mechanics had suffered a lot…
These four individuals are intimately involved in the hotly contested F‑35 deal. What is interesting is that at the signing, the F‑35 contract was presented as the contract of the century for the Belgian aeronautics industry (3 billion in economic benefits). This segment is vital for the Walloon aeronautics industry in particular, but today there have been only fine promises and no contracts(6). Beyond the wastefulness and indecency of still spending money on this kind of death machine, would our good minister Reynders, who met discreetly with Bart De Wever in Mozet in the castle-farm of Fontinoy many times, have betrayed the Walloon industry?
Eric Arthur Parme
- « Un trafic d’armes illégal d’Ostende vers la Libye », 15 avril 2015, https://www.7sur7.be/belgique/un-trafic-d-armes-illegales-d-ostende-vers-la-libye~a8c55507
- « Rechterhand Vandeput roept vragen op », De Tijd, 20-06-2015.
- « Wie wist wat over de F‑16’s op het kabinet ? », De Morgen, 23 mars 2018 ; F‑16: « Un adjoint du ministre Vandeput viré après des contacts avec Lockheed Martin », 20 juin 2018, www.rtbf.be.
- cf. Kairos, « Bienvenue en Ploutocratie », 20-04-2018, https://www.kairospresse.be.
- « Asco, le fournisseur belge du F‑35, vendu à des Américains. », L’Echo du 02-05-2018.
- « F 35, Lockeed Martin met l’aéronautique belge sur les charbons ardents », 21-03-2019, www.rtbf.be.