Justice minister resigns over Belgium's Fortis scandal
A scandal over the sale of Belgium's
troubled Fortis bank claimed its first victim Friday as the country's justice
minister stepped down from his post, dpa
The resignations of Jo Vandeuzen, who also acts as Belgium's minister for institutional reform, were confirmed by his Christian Democratic and Flemish grouping, one of Belgium's five ruling coalition parties.
The announcement followed a new round of crisis talks held in the wake of accusations that the government had tried to influence a December 12 court ruling over the sale of Fortis to BNP Paribas.
Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Didier Reynders said Prime Minister Yves Leterme was also considering stepping down from his post after just nine months in office.
"Leterme has brought up (the issue of) his resignations," Reynders told the RTBF radio station that
Leterme has denied that his office tried to influence the judges' decision, but has admitted that one of his aides did contact judges prior to the ruling.
Government officials have said they want to wait for a report into the matter by the head of Belgium's highest court, the Court of Cassation, before drawing any conclusions on the government's future.
The scandal involves the planned sale of Fortis's operations in Belgium and Luxembourg, which the courts have blocked following complaints from the bank's shareholders.
BNP Paribas has since said it will no longer proceed with its plan to buy a majority stake in Fortis, one of the first European victims of the global financial crisis.