Belgium faces more political upheaval, with Prime Minister Yves Leterme facing calls to resign over charges that he acted improperly over the failed bank Fortis. Leterme’s accusers say his office tried to influence justice officials handling the bank’s rescue by putting pressure on the prosecutor handing the case. The Prime Minister wrote to parliament insisting he had never tried to manipulate the proceedings. However the prosecutor said Leterme’s staff called him saying they were concerned about his possible recommendations.
The Belgian government is mired in a complex legal battle with shareholders over the sale of Fortis’ assets. Herman De Croo, a member of parliament from the Open-VLD party said: “I will never support the idea of abandoning the traditional separation of the government and the judges. If I do not get a proper explanation, I will join a vote of no confidence in Leterme.” Fortis was an early victim of the world financial crisis. Some assets were bought by the Dutch government, with France’s BNP Paribas taking the rest. Minority shareholders, though, are angry the Belgian government agreed the break-up without consulting them.