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Belgian Parliamentary Panel Adopts Final Report on Kazakhgate Corruption Scandal

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BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - A Belgian parliamentary committee on Friday approved a final report on a complex corruption case involving Belgian, French and Kazakh authorities, with the conclusion that no illegal actions had been detected, but the judiciary investigations are still ongoing.

According to media reports, eight members of the commission voted for the final version of the report, while four were against. The report will have to be adopted at the plenary session of the chamber of representatives.

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The "Kazakhgate" revolves around citizens of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the most important being Belgian-Kazakh businessman Patokh Chodiev, accused of corruption in an energy deal in 1996 between the Belgian Tractebel firm and Kazakhstan. Tractebel paid a bribe of 25 million euros, or roughly $30 million, to access the Kazakh market.

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In 2011, the Cabinet of then French President Nicolas Sarkozy allegedly intervened in Belgium to ensure that Chodiev and his two associates would get off scot-free so that Paris could conclude a large deal with Astana. The French government was at the time negotiating the sale of 45 helicopters to Kazakhstan.

The report looked into the role of Belgian lawmaker Armand De Decker, who served as Chodiev's lawyer. De Decker contacted his colleagues in the various ministries, which may have influenced the passage of the legislation on penal transactions, that Chodiev eventually benefited from.

On Thursday, lawmaker Georges Gilkinet suggested, while speaking on TV, that De Decker be stripped of the Minister of State title.

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The Penal transaction law allows a defendant to pay a fine in exchange for the court ending proceedings. The settlement does not then go on the person's criminal record.

Chodiev paid 500,000 euros, while De Decker might have received a fee of over 700,000 euros for his services, according to media reports. De Decker has denied any special intervention in the case.

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Two judiciary cases are pending: one in Paris for money laundering and kickbacks. Several affiliates of Sarkozy weer questioned on this case in 2014-2015. The other investigation opened in Belgium in 2015, and had to be moved from the Brussels court to the city of Mons in 2016, since a high court magistrate is involved.

A special parliamentary commission was established in 2016 to investigate the "Kazakhgate," presided over by a socialist member of the parliament, Dirk van der Maelen. The commission met for months, interrogated all parties, including Chodiev. The discussions were tense between the majority lawmakers and the opposition. De Decker, who belongs to the Reformist Movement, the party of Prime Minister Charles Michel, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders, were also questioned.

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