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KLM accused of bribing Bonairean politician Booi, Dutch parliament seeks clarity

WEDNESDAY, 11 DECEMBER 2013

THE HAGUE–The liberal democratic VVD party in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament is demanding clarity on the alleged involvement of Royal Dutch Airlines KLM in the bribery of Bonaire politicians.

VVD Members of Parliament (MPs) André Bosman, Pieter Litjens, Ton Elias and Klaas Dijkhoff posed written questions to Dutch Ministers Ronald Plasterk (Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations) and Melanie Schultz van Haegen (Infrastructure and Environment), and State Secretary Fred Teeven of Safety and Justice, on Tuesday after a publication in Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad with the headline, “Investigation into corruption KLM was prematurely stopped.”

The NRC Handelsblad reported on December 7 that the National Detectives in 2010 had to cease an investigation into the involvement of KLM in the bribery of UPB Bonaire politicians. The newspaper specifically mentioned Ramonsito Booi and his “right hand,” Burney el Hage.

According to documents of the current Zambezi criminal case against Booi and El Hage, a Dutch judge ordered a premature closure of the file regarding the possible bribery of local politicians by KLM.

The judge decided in 2010 that the investigation had to stop because of a “needless delay” of four months. This time, pressure forced the Prosecutor’s Office to drop the case and the investigation was not completed.

The NRC Handelsblad reported that Booi arranged low kerosene tariffs for KLM in 2001 along with a multi-million renovation of Bonaire’s Flamingo Airport. This solved KLM’s problems as it needed a landing place to refuel and cater its flights on the route Amsterdam-Peru, Ecuador. Curaçao was not an option at that time because KLM had some issues with the local government there.

Witnesses told the National Detectives that a portion of the fee that KLM had to pay per gallon to the airport via supplier US Coastal went to Booi. Witnesses told the newspaper that Booi and others received royal treatment from then-KLM President Peter Hartman.

Hartman, reportedly a friend of Booi, let Booi fly business class for free. Justice concluded that Booi travelled excessively. Between August 2008 and October 2011, he took 237 flights, which amounts to six flights per month.

The VVD MPs didn’t take this newspaper report lightly. Bosman, Litjens, Elias and Dijkhoff asked government whether it was correct that Booi had arranged a special kerosene tariff and a multi-million renovation in return for a portion of the fee and free business class tickets.

The MPs wanted to know exactly why the National Detectives and Prosecutor’s Office had to stop the investigation and why the Judge of Instruction had intervened by imposing a four-month time constraint. “Is it customary to impose a time limit in an extensive corruption investigation such as this one? What are the criteria,” the MPs asked.

According to the MPs, concrete action was necessary to combat corruption in Bonaire. In this light, it was very important to have solid judicial investigations without constraints.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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