The Belgian Court of Cassation has dismissed the case against the Advocate General of Brussels and a member of the country’s royal family, bringing the never-ending Kazakhgate case to a close.
Jean-François Godbille and Princess Léa of Belgium had been accused of taking advantage of a €25,000 donation from the account of Patokh Chodiev, a Kazakh businessman who was under investigation by the Belgian authorities.
The media had claimed that the payment to Godbille, who was at the time the Advocate General at the Brussels Public Prosecutor’s Office, may have been an attempt by Chodiev to obtain a penal transaction, from which he benefited in 2011.
The criminal investigation ended in January 2020 and its office found no charges against Godbille and Princess Léa, and the Court of Cassation officially dismissed the case last week.
Godbille, who has always maintained his innocence, has stated through his lawyer that he would now devote his time to social projects to help young people in disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
The dismissal of the case against Godbille and Princess Léa brings a ten-year investigation into the Kazakhgate affair to an end.
Chodiev, who obtained Belgian nationality during the 1990s, had been investigated by the authorities for certain real estate transactions and agreed to settle these disputes in 2011 without confessing his guilt.
This regulation was based on a penal transaction law that had just been adopted by the Belgian Parliament, but it was later claimed that this law had been introduced to facilitate the termination of proceedings against Chodiev.
Further allegations that the French Government had tried to influence the introduction of the penal transaction law in favour of Chodiev have also emerged. In addition, Armand De Decker, a Belgian senator hired by Chodiev’s lawyer, was reportedly lobbying the political authorities on behalf of the billionaire.
These allegations have led to several investigations, including one by parliamentarians. All Belgian investigations have now been completed without any fault being found.
The parliamentary inquiry concluded that the new law on penal transaction was not influenced by lobbying and was not introduced for the benefit of Chodiev.
The investigation into Godbille and Princess Léa was the only one left in the Kazakhgate affair in Belgium. It should be noted that this investigation was opened after the publication in the media of a €25,000 donation to the Prince and Princess Alexander of Belgium Foundation, a charity run by Princess Léa.
The Princess thought the money came from the Order of Malta. As requested, she donated it to the Belgian Association for Scouts, Association Amitié et Fraternité Scoute (AFS), managed by Godbille.