October 23, 2020 admin 0 Comments

A Belgian judge has dismissed a bribery case brought against the former Brussels attorney general and a member of the country’s royal family, bringing to an end the long-running Kazakhgate scandal.

Jean-François Godbille and Princess Léa were accused of receiving a charitable donation of €25,000 from Patokh Chodiev, a Kazakh businessman who had been under investigation by the Belgian authorities.

The media claimed that the payment to Godbille, who at the time was the Brussels advocate general, may have been an attempt by Chodiev to secure approval for a plea bargain agreement he entered into with Belgian prosecutors in 2011.

The case against Godbille and Princess Léa collapsed in January 2020 due to a lack of evidence and the Court of Cessation formally threw the charges out last week.

Godbille, who has maintained his innocence, said in a statement that he would now be devoting his time to social projects to help disadvantaged people.

The dismissal of the case against Godbille and Princess Léa brings to an end a decade-long investigation into the “Kazakhgate” affair.

Chodiev, who was granted Belgian citizenship in the 1990s, had been under investigation by the authorities over some property deals and he agreed to settle the claims in 2011 without admitting guilt.

The settlement made use of a plea bargain law that had recently been passed by the Belgian Parliament but it was subsequently claimed that the law was introduced to facilitate Chodiev’s settlement agreement.

There were further claims that the French government had sought to influence the introduction of the law as a favour to Chodiev and also that Armand De Decker, a Belgian senator hired by Chodiev’s lawyer, had lobbied on behalf of the billionaire.

These allegations led to several investigations, including a Parliamentary Inquiry. All of the Belgian investigations have now ended with no wrongdoing uncovered.

The Parliamentary Inquiry concluded that the new plea bargain law had not been influenced by lobbying and it had not been introduced to benefit of the Chodiev case.

The case against Godbille and Princess Léa had been the only remaining investigation into the Kazakhgate affair. The case was brought after it emerged that €25,000 had been donated to the Prince & Princess Alexandre of Belgium Fund, a charity run by Princess Léa. She thought the money had come from the Order of Malta and had forwarded it, as requested, to Amitié et Fraternité Scoute (AFS), a Scouting charity chaired by Godbille.

Prosecutors discovered that the payment had actually come from Catherine Degoul, the French lawyer hired to help Chodiev’s case, and had been arranged by Senator De Decker.

Despite media assertions that the payment may have been a bribe to influence Godbille into supporting the Chodiev settlement, all parties involved denied this. With no evidence to support the allegations, the case was dismissed.

The allegations made against Godbille were undermined when it emerged that he was not involved in the 2011 discussions to settle the Chodiev case and he had no conversations about it.

Throughout the Kazakhgate affair, wild claims have been made about foreign influence in Belgian politics and favours done for the billionaire Chodiev. But investigations into these allegations have found nothing, raising questions over why the authorities and the media have been willing to indulge so many unproven claims.

Chodiev’s lawyer has said that his client’s reputation has been dragged through the mud as a result of these unfounded allegations.

Kazakhgate Saga Finally Ends As Investigation Is Dropped in Belgium was last modified: October 23rd, 2020 by admin

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