Saturday 16 November 2019

Deal with drugs baron was unacceptable, cabinet admits ahead of debate

ard van der steurThe deal struck by a senior public prosecutor with a convicted drugs baron which enabled him to avoid prison and keep 4.7 million guilders was unacceptable, justice minister Ard van der Steur has told MPs.

The then public prosecutor Fred Teeven, who went on to become a junior justice minister, agreed the deal with Cees H in 2000 and kept it secret from the tax office. The deal became public in 2014.

An independent report on the case last week said the deal showed ‘serious shortcomings’. ‘The cabinet accepts the conclusions of the committee,’ Van der Steur said in answer to MPs questions on Tuesday, the Volkskrant reported.

Last Friday, prime minister Mark Rutte said Teeven had done a good job in agreeing the settlement and implied he may have been given information in return.

Since the report was published, however, it has emerged that Van der Steur and his deputy Klaas Dijkhoff were closely involved in determining how the cabinet should deal with the fall out from media revelations about the deal earlier this year.

The two men were MPs at the time but have since replaced Teeven and his boss Ivo Opstelten who both resigned because of the scandal in March.

Advice

According to the Volkskrant, the two MPs advised ministers to strongly deny claims in television show Nieuwsuur that the deal had involved returning 4.7 million guilders to Cees H. ‘That was because it could cause confusion,’ Van der Steur said on Tuesday.

At that point, written evidence of the settlement had not yet been traced in the justice ministry archives, he said.

MPs are due to debate last week’s report with ministers on Wednesday afternoon. Both ministers have a lot of questions to answer, RTL news’ political correspondent Frits Wester said.

Chairwoman

Meanwhile, former parliamentary chairwoman Anouchka van Miltenburg, on Tuesday escaped questioning about her role in shredding an anonymous letter warning parliament was being misled about the deal.

Van Miltenburg resigned at the weekend, becoming the third high profile member of the VVD to quit their jobs over the scandal.

According to the Parool, Van Miltenburg is not in a position to answer questions about her role without becoming ‘personally emotional’.

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