Clegg’s wife asked former Dutch FM to lobby for member of Gaddafi clique

Foto ThinkStock

Nick Clegg’s wife Miriam González asked Dutch top lobbyist Bernard Bot to lobby at the Dutch Public Prosecution Service for a businessman from Colonel Gaddafi’s clique. Bot, previous Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, now works as a consultant for the Libyan who in the Netherlands is suspected to have diverted at least 28.5 million dollars from Libyan state funds.

González, a partner at law firm Dechert in London, asked Bot for help last year when Clegg was still Deputy Prime Minister for the Liberal Democrats. The suspected Libyan, Ismael A. and his family are clients of Dechert. Ismael (45) is the son-in-law of previous Libyan Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem.

Ismail being investigated by several countries

Research by NRC Handelsblad shows that Ismael and his in-laws are being investigated by several countries. Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United States are investigating the Libyan millions that were stolen by the Gaddafi clique. In diverting the money, Ismael would have cooperated with Mohamed Ghanem, Shukri Ghanem’s son. He was one of Colonel Gaddafi’s confidants. When asked, Ismael denies all imputations.

González and Bot know each other from the period they both worked in Brussels. She worked in the cabinet of European Commissioners Patten and Ferrero-Waldner, he was a permanent representative of the Netherlands to the EU. Bot was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2003 to 2007. After that, he became a partner at lobbying firm Meines Holla & Partners in The Hague, where he specializes in complex international matters.

Palladyne manages 700 million dollars of Libyan state funds

In June 2013, it became known that the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service, FIOD, had raided Ismael’s residence and his company, Palladyne International Asset Management in Amsterdam. Palladyne manages 700 million dollars worth of assets from Libyan state funds. The Public Prosecution Service seized 28.5 million dollars, the amount that would have been diverted.

When González asked Bot for help, the issue had lasted for a year already without any willingness from the Public Prosecution Service to clarify the suspicions of money laundering, fraud and forgery, the former minister says to NRC Handelsblad. According to him, the request was if he could use his “influence” to set the case in motion again. Bot says to have complied with the request after studying the case. The former Minister doesn’t see any problems. The suspicions were “all refuted with rebuttals by the lawyers.”

Bot wrote he was no advocate to suspected businessman

Subsequently, in letters to the Dutch chief prosecutor, Bot insisted on lifting the seizure of the businessman’s possessions. He also requested that his client be given more information on the investigation, as he confirms to this newspaper. In his letters, Bot wrote that he was no advocate to the suspected Libyan businessman. Now he turns out to be the suspect’s paid consultant.

The Public Prosecution Office doesn’t want to react to Bot’s statements.

Before González joined Dechert at the end of 2011, she was a partner at competing law firm DLA Piper.

Earlier that year, the British press revealed that DLA Piper had lobbied for the Gaddafi regime during negotiations with the EU on illegal migration from Libya to Europe. At the time, the law firm stated González didn’t act on behalf of the Libyan government.

Neil Gerrard, the main lawyer at Dechert working on this file, who also worked at DLA Piper until 2011, does not wish to answer questions about clients. Miriam González does not respond to requests for comments.

Statement from Ismael A.: