Dutch Minister Resigns After Fraud Inquiry
(Source : Radio Netherlands; issued Dec. 12, 2002)


The Netherlands' defence minister, Benk Korthals, has resigned from the outgoing cabinet following the publication of a critical report on fraud in the country's building industry.

The parliamentary committee of investigation concluded that Mr Korthals - in his position as Justice Minister with the previous government - misinformed parliament on essential points relating to one particular case of fraud.

The minister stepped down today, saying he cannot stay in office with his department and the armed forces just about to undergo a major reorganisation.

The committee's report sketches a picture of a government which failed to take action against the building industry. It is highly critical of all the parties involved, among them some 600 building companies which regarded their price-fixing agreements as legitimate.

The committee expressed shock at the extent of corruption within the building industry. It also said taxpayers have had to bear the brunt of the costs. The exact level of those costs was not disclosed.

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