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2 Dutch Ministers Quit Over Payment to Drug Lord
International

2 Dutch Ministers Quit Over Payment to Drug Lord

Dutch Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten and State Secretary Fred Teeven resigned after misleading parliament over a 2001 compensation payment to a convicted drug trafficker.
Opstelten had said the trafficker was paid less than he actually was for money wrongly confiscated by the state. He also said details of the payment - authorized by Teeven as prosecutor - had been lost, but this was not so, BBC reported.
The justice minister had claimed that a convicted drug trafficker, Cees Helman, was paid much less than the compensation of 4.7 million Dutch guilders ($2.3 million) in current terms - that he actually received. He also said that the details of the payment had been lost.
On Monday, however, Opstelten said a record of the transaction had been found.
“This information could have been found earlier,” he told reporters. “I take full responsibility for this and have just now offered my resignation to the king.”
The payment was made after the authorities were unable to prove that money they had confiscated from Helman had been obtained illegally. Teeven, who was a prosecutor at the time, had authorized the settlement.
The payment was not illegal. However, both ministers said the misinformation had made their positions untenable.
The resignations are a blow to the Liberal party as it faces an election.
Opstelten and Teeven are both from the conservative wing of the party, which faces a challenge from Geert Wilders’ far-right Freedom Party in provincial elections this month.
The resignations are also expected to place a strain on the Liberal’s coalition with the Labor party, which has been very critical of Opstelten and Teeven.

 

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