Kazakhgate: A Case Of States Scandal Politics In France And In Belgium
Belgium and France are involved in the Kazakhgate affair, which degenerates into a political scandal. It is the involvement of senior officials of both countries, including the former Minister of the Interior of Sarkozy, in the fraudulent surrender of charges against the businessman of Uzbek-Kazakh origin Patok Chodiev.
New circumstances in the Kazakhgate affair were revealed by Le Vif / L’Express and De Standaard. Two new documents testify to the central role of Claude Guéant, former Minister of the Interior of Nicolas Sarkozy in this case. On Wednesday, he was questioned by the parliamentary inquiry committee. Let’s go back a bit on the origins of Kazakhgate.
Initially, France was negotiating with Kazakhstan a nine-digit contract for the sale of 45 Eurocopter helicopters. The Kazakh leader would have alluded to an effective way to accelerate the signing of the aeronautical contract: to save from a conviction in Belgium a trio of Kazakh billionaires, friends of the President. It would be Patok Chodiev, a businessman of Uzbek-Kazakh origin who would have influenced Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev to propose this solution. The Chodiev charges were lifted in record time. The businessman, who has a Belgian passport since 1997, is number two in the list of the richest Belgians.
Claude Gueant, then interior minister of Nicolas Sarkozy, who was a friend of Nazarbayev, is today suspected of having been one of the central figures of this alleged trafficking in influence, the RTBF said . Because of the direct involvement of the former minister, the Kazakhgate file already reaches the governmental level of the two countries and becomes a national affair.
Among the documents presented by Le Vif , there is a handwritten card by M. Guéant following the criminal transaction concluded in June 2011 at the Brussels prosecutor’s office by the Kazakh trio. The card was sent to Damien Loras, then diplomatic adviser at the Élysée on 18 August 2011. It reads:
I had A. De Decker on the phone. It is true that he and his team have done a magnificent job that can only serve the interests of France … My concern now is very prosaic: is that the lawyers who worked for Chodiev are now paid … Can you Touch or touch Chodiev?
Friendships. CG »
Consequently, Le Vif questions the role played by Claude Gueant: is he the brain of Kazakhgate?
In Belgium, Armand De Decker, former President of the Belgian Senate, is suspected of trading in influence for the benefit of a foreign State. According to some media, it was he who would have favored the abandonment of the criminal prosecution of Patok Chodiev. De Decker would have received a fee of 740,000 euros for 350 hours of legal aid, which he denies. The businessman and his two colleagues paid a total of 23 million euros to the Belgian treasury.
Similarly, the current Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs (then Finance Minister) Didier Reynders also played a role in Kazakhgate, says Le Vif.
However, MM. De Decker and Reynders claim not to be related to this case. In order to shed light on the matter, the Belgian Parliament set up a special commission of inquiry in 2016, which heard Claude Gueant on Wednesday.