Scandal-ridden head of MH17 foundation steps down
Piet Ploeg, the chairman of the MH17 Foundation is stepping down; at least temporarily.
NRC Handelsblad reports that the decision fell today in consultation with the board of the foundation, in response to reports that Ploeg was named in a criminal investigation into his fellow VVD party member Kathalijne de Kruif.
De Kruiff, a former VVD faction leader from the Stichtse Vecht municipality, is being held in pre-detention under suspicion of growing marijuana and money laundering. She is also charged with leaking information about the appointment of a new mayor to Ploeg. The MH17 Foundation chairman once served as councilor of Stichtse Vecht.
NRC wrote that the Prosecutor’s Office of Oost Holland suspects that Ploeg and Rob Bats (VVD), the former mayor of Haren, have tried to influence the Stichtse Vecht mayor’s appointment in favor of Bats.
According to the newspaper’s editor Marcel Haenen police had wiretapped phone conversations of De Kruiff’s, in which the faction leader “as a member of the trust committee passed information about the application process to Ploeg.” Haenen wrote on Tuesday that De Kruif told Ploeg which questions and cases would be presented to the applicant.
ANP wrote this afternoon that the MH17 Foundation discussed the investigation with Piet Ploeg. According to the press agency the foundation said in a statement that the criminal investigation should provide clarity about whether Ploeg was indeed involved in the criminal activities De Kruif is suspected of. “The board discussed the matter with Piet Ploeg. Our joint conclusion was that it would be best if Piet laid down his chairmanship and other board activities during the course of the criminal investigation,” the statement said.
The foundation that was established in November last year to look after the interest of the passengers that perished when the Malaysian Air flight was shot down on July 17 2014, said that it did not want the discussion about Ploeg to hinder its work. Ploeg’s tasks will be handled by other board members.