‘Investigate alleged role of slush funds in sale of tanks to Chile’

5 August 2009

‘Investigate alleged role of slush funds in sale of tanks to Chile’

The government must conduct a criminal investigation into the sale of tanks to Chile, according to SP Member of Parliament and military affairs spokeswoman Krista van Velzen. Two officers have been arraigned by the South American country’s courts on suspicion of accepting kickbacks in connection with the sale.

The Chilean officers allegedly accepted bribes of $600,000 linked to the purchase of more than two hundred Dutch Leopard tanks in 1998. “The Netherlands sells a lot of used military equipment to Chile,” says Van Velzen. “It is clearly unacceptable if these sales are aided by corruption. I asked the government for an explanation four years ago, when these suspicions first arose. At that time I was fobbed off with the tale that Chile would have to investigate the matter in the first instance. Now these military officers have been accused, it’s time to look into whether people in the Netherlands were also involved in corruption and if so to prosecute them.”

Leopard tanks on exercises

The tanks were sold by the government to RDM, the defence corporation headed by businessman Joep van den Nieuwenhuyzen,. The firm sold them on to Chile for a sum of $63 million. The corruption was discovered during an investigation into the origins of the late dictator Augusto Pinochet’s fortune.

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