The threat of a corruption trial now hangs over State Minister Jaak Gabriels (Open Vld – Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats) following the completion by the Office of the Public Prosecutor (OPP) of an investigation into fraud reportedly involving the liberal party in Bree. This was reported by Het Belang van Limburg and De Standaard newspapers reported on Tuesday.
Thousands of euros were reportedly embezzled from the municipality of Bree and from local companies through a system of false bills for the benefit of the local liberal party, Verjonging. The bills, mainly for printing and publicity costs, were charged to the municipality and about 20 companies. However, the services were provided to the local section of the liberal party.
In addition to Jaak Gabriels and former provincial councillor Maarten De Ceulaer, considered the brain of the operation by the OPP, Gabriels’ former secretary, Mathieu Verheyen, is also accused – mainly of forgery and fraud.
Gabriels has maintained that he was not involved in the scam.