The Agusta scandal or the Case Agusta-Dassault was a Belgian corruption scandal. It resulted from the purchase of military helicopter of the Agusta A109 Agusta-type by the Belgian Army in 1988, where Agusta and Dassault bribed various office holders. Several politicians had to resign along the investigation into the purchase.
The investigation into the purchase was started by the investigative team looking into the 1991 assassination of André Cools, a Socialist Party (PS, Parti Socialiste) politician and former Deputy Prime Minister, when it turned out that Cools had knowledge about the Agusta deal. An official investigation into the deal was started in January 1993, by judge Véronique Ancia, when a search warrant was issued for Agusta and its lobbyist Georges Cywie.
In January 1994, the Belgian Senate removed the immunity on Minister-President of the Walloon Region Guy Spitaels and minister Guy Mathot (fr), both of the Socialist Party and members of the Walloon Government.
Guy Coëme, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transportation for the Socialist Party (PS) resigned that same month. Frank Vandenbroucke, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Federal Government for the Socialist Party (Socialistische Partij), resigned from his post in March 1994. Willy Claes, member of the Socialist Party (SP, Socialistische Partij) and Secretary General of NATO resigned on 20 October 1995.
A criminal trial was handled by the Court of Cassation, which has competence for cases involving minister in function. Public prosecutor was Eliane Liekendael (nl). The Court had most of its verdicts ready on 23 December 1998. Willy Claes was sentenced to 3-year probationary and a 5-year prohibition on running for public office. Guy Coëme and Guy Spitaels both got 3-year probationary and a 5-year prohibition on running for public office. Serge Dassault, of the Dassault company, got a 18-months probationary sentence for bribing the previous mentioned people. In total, Agusta and Dassault paid more than 160 million francs (about 4 million euros) to the Parti Socialiste and Socialistische Partij.
|Name||Function||Party||Crime (Agusta case)||Crime (Dassault case)||Sentence||Fine (Belgian francs)|
|Andre Bastien||Chief of Staff to Coëme||PS||n.a.||passive corruption
|6 months probationary||6,000|
|Willy Claes||Minister of Foreign Affairs||SP||passive corruption||passive corruption||3 years probationary||60,000|
|Guy Coëme||Minister of Defense||PS||n.a.||passive corruption
|2 years probationary||60,000|
|Serge Dassault||Director Dassault Group||n.a.||n.a.||active corruption||2 years probationary||60,000|
|Johan Delanghe||Chief of Staff to Claes||SP||passive corruption||passive corruption
|Auguste Merry Hermanus||Chief of Staff||PS||n.a.||passive corruption||1 year probationary||30,000|
|Etienne Mangé||Treasurer Socialistische Partij||SP||n.a.||n.a.||1 year probationary||30,000|
|Jean-Louis Mazy||Deputy Chief of Staff to Coëme||PS||n.a.||passive corruption
|6 months probationary||6,000|
|Alfons Puelinckx||lawyer||n.a.||passive corruption
|passive corruption||2 years incarceration||60,000|
|François Pirot||Vice-Secretary Parti Socialiste||PS||n.a.||passive corruption||3 months probationary||6,000|
|Guy Spitaels||Chairman Parti Socialiste||PS||n.a.||passive corruption||2 years probationary||60,000|
|Luc Wallyn||Secretary Parti Socialiste||PS||passive corruption
|passive corruption||2 years probationary||60,000|
The Parti Socialiste had to return 49 million francs in bribes, the Socialistische Partij 111 million francs. Claes, Coëme, Delanghe, Hermanus, Mangé, Puelinckx, Spitaels and Wallyn were also barred from running for political office, or working in the civil service, for five years.
European Court of Human Rights
After the verdicts were handed down, many of the convicts applied to the European Court of Human Rights to get the verdicts removed, because the Court of Cassation in Belgium does not allow for an appeal process, which would have been in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
On 2 June 2005, the ECHR judged that in the case of the two ministers, Willy Claes and Guy Coëme, both men were given a lawful trial at the Court of Cassation. The trial of the five others who applied to the ECHR, Dassault, Hermanus, Delanghe, Puelinckx and Wallyn, at the Court of Cassation, was found to have contravened the European Convention on Human Rights, but their verdicts would stand nonetheless.
- ECHR judgment (French)