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Former top cop faces corruption charges

Former police chief Glenn Audenaert. © Belga

The Brussels prosecutor’s office is to bring charges against the former chief of the federal judicial police for corruption, forgery, breach of confidentiality and money-laundering. Glenn Audenaert, aged 65, is now retired from the police.

In his day, Audenaert was a highly visible figure, front and centre for every successful police operation, never far from the news studios. Famously, he would invite celebrities to the annual New Year’s reception at police headquarters.

He also had contacts with the top of the business world, and it is one of those contacts – the Dutch property magnate Frank Zweegers — who is at the basis of the latest case.

In 2013 the federal judicial police moved from their previous headquarters in the area of the red light district to new premises in the State Archive Centre (RAC) on the Rue Royale. Audenaert had been a fervent proponent of that option, despite early misgivings of others regarding the building’s suitability for the force, and especially over the extent of the works that would be required.

In the end, the actual costs far outweighed even the worst estimates, and the prosecutor’s office in Dendermonde started looking into the case. They discovered that Zweegers had a major interest in the building, reaping the benefits of the works carried out at public expense.

More seriously, it has now been alleged, Audenaert had received a consideration for his lobbying work in pushing through the move to the RAC.

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The charges against Audenaert go beyond the suspect move. Dendermonde had already become interested in 2010, when quite by accident, a contact was traced between him and a businessman prominent in Antwerp, for whom he did a favour by looking something up on the police national database – a highly confidential resource not intended for public eyes.

That is one of the charges now facing Audenaert, should the case ever come to court. This week, a court will begin looking to see if the investigation was properly carried out. If so, it will be for another court to decide whether or not to commit Audenaert, as well as two co-accused, for trial. A third potential co-accused has died in the meantime.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times