Parliament of Wallonia opens disciplinary hearing against former clerk

Parliament of Wallonia opens disciplinary hearing against former clerk

The Office of the Parliament of Wallonia has decided to officially open a disciplinary hearing against its former clerk, Frédéric Janssens, who since last September has been facing allegations of harassment and gross mismanagement of public finances, the regional parliament’s lawyer Jean Bourtembourg said on Monday.

The procedure for extending the official’s preventative suspension is underway, which includes a reduction in the official’s salary and the removal of additional benefits gained from his former position, he added.

Janssens has been summoned to appear before the Office on 6 March to defend his actions and to protect his salary. Alternatively, the former official can respond to the accusations in writing by 3 March.

“It is imperative that such procedures are conducted in compliance with the rules governing the exercise of disciplinary powers and the Office of the Parliament will not comment on the content of the case or the course of the proceedings until the decisions are handed down,” the lawyer said.

The charges levelled against the embattled former official are numerous. First, the Office believes that Janssens may have failed in his management of certain public contracts.

Works conducted at the Parliament of Walloon have spiralled out of control. Notably, renovation works at the House of Parliamentarians are now over four times over budget at more than €46 million and a tunnel linking a private car park to the building is now nearly three times over budget at over €3 million.

A judicial investigation is officially underway to investigate the massive overspending, which will investigate the oversight and competencies of the clerk. The former official may be implicated in awarding suspect contracts in regards to the updating of critical computer software at the parliament. There are accusations of favouritism in awarding this contract.

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The clerk is also named in 13 complaints of harassment received by the Namur labour auditor. Initial reports suggest that the auditor’s office believes that several of the complaints are serious. Janssens was exposed in September for his "authoritarian" running of the parliament and presiding over a "climate of terror."

Until recently, Janssens was suspended with full pay, despite the allegations levelled against him. Under the new suspension, which would massively dock his pay, Janssens would also lose his work vehicle and other privileges.

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