Ruling party chair steps down over shady business deal; PM Rutte stands by him

Henry Keizer is temporarily stepping down as chairman of the VVD while the party's Integrity Committee investigates a seemingly shady business deal he was involved in in 2012. The VVD stands behind Keizer as he awaits the outcome of the investigation, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, BNR reports.

"On Friday I asked the Integrity Committee to do an investigation. The Committee today informed me that it will accept the request", Keizer said in a statement on Tuesday evening. According to Keizer, the "unrest in the media" still hasn't died down. It is "harmful" to the VVD and prevents him from performing his function, he said. "I therefore decided to temporarily lay down my duties as chairman."

The commotion surrounds the purchase of funeral home De Facultatieve in 2012. According to news agency Follow The Money, Keizer and his partners bought the funeral home for a fraction of its worth. Keizer was also the advisor and chairman of the funeral home at the time it was sold, creating a clear conflict of interest, according to Follow The Money.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte confirmed that the Integrity Committee is investigating the deal, "supported by several authoritative external experts", he said, according to BNR. Based on the results of the investigation, Keizer will decide whether he will accept his reappointment as party chairman. 

Rutte described Keizer as a "hardworking VVD member and an integral man". He added that the VVD will not simply turn their backs on him. "At the VVD we support our people as long as it has not been proven that they acted without integrity. We must have the highest standard when it comes to integrity. If someone is accused of serious facts, I think it is good to let it be investigated."