Sunday 15 September 2019

Justice minister denies hiding information about drugs dealer cash

Photo: Regering.nl

Justice minister Ard van der Steur has rejected claims made by a television programme that he failed to pass on important information about a deal with a convicted criminal to parliament.

Journalist Bas Haan claims in a new book about the deal that Van der Steur kept quiet about it while both an MP and a minister. Haan bases his assertion on an email sent by Van der Steur in March 2015.

The deal was struck between public prosecutor Fred Teeven and a convicted drugs dealer in 2000. The agreement between Teeven, who went on to become junior justice minister, and Cees H, involved a 4.7 million guilder payment to H, which was never disclosed to the tax office. The deal also allowed H to escape prison.

Teeven and his boss Ivo Opstelten both resigned because of the scandal in March 2015 and were replaced by Van der Steur and Klaas Dijkhoff. It later transpired both  new ministers were closely involved in determining how the cabinet should deal with the fall out from media revelations about the deal.

Email

Haan alleges Van der Steur was involved in scrapping some answers Opstelten was preparing to give parliament about the deal.

He cites parts of a document in which Van der Steur writes ‘this will cause trouble, make changes’ and ‘remove, invites discussion’. He also removed all sections referring to money, Haan says.

Later and now as minister, Van der Steur kept quiet about these changes during debates in parliament, Haan alleges.

In a reaction, Van der Steur said he had passed all his emails to the special commission which investigated the scandal. Prime minister Mark Rutte said on Facebook: ‘The letter the journalist refers to was given to Oosting [the commission] and spoken about in parliamentary debates.’

‘I don’t think anything new has turned up here,’ the prime minister said.

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