In 2018, the Court of Audit conducted a sample of VRT contracts. The report of this, which the chairman of the Media Commission Elisabeth Meuleman (Groen) received today, shows that the Court of Audit ‘for 18 of the 47 expenditure (more than 38%)’ of the contracts examined, ‘a competition ‘.
‘On several occasions, the VRT awarded a public contract directly to a service provider, without placing a public contract or without consulting several companies, although the public procurement regulations required this. At the very least, the VRT could not demonstrate the consultation of several entrepreneurs or the impossibility of doing so, due to a lack of supporting documents or a motivated decision, ”the report continues.
The Court of Audit reported on the final report to the then managing director of the VRT (Paul Lembrechts, ed.), The chairman of the Board of Directors of the VRT (Luc Van den Brande), and the competent minister.
It is no coincidence that the conclusions of the Court of Audit’s report are now surfacing. Just today, Luc Van den Brande (CD&V), chairman of the board of directors, is questioned about his role in the crisis at the VRT top that has prevailed since last winter. On November 27, 2019, CEO Paul Lembrechts requested the resignation of his director of Production & Media, Peter Claes. He was refused this by the board of directors. In the aftermath of that conflict, Lembrechts was asked by the competent minister to resign, only later Claes had to go too. After reporting about malpractices at the top of the VRT, Audit Flanders started a forensic investigation.
Two weeks ago, the members of parliament were able to view the report of Audit Flanders on this. That report would show that Lembrechts had rightly requested Claes’s dismissal at the time. The Audit Report, which is secret, would also point out that the VRT did not follow the established procedures for certain contracts.
That is why the timing of this Court of Audit report is so remarkable. The VRT received the report on October 22, 2019. Both the then CEO Paul Lembrechts and chairman of the Board of Directors received a copy. Lembrechts formulated an answer on November 14. Less than two weeks later, he requests the resignation of Peter Claes.
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