Roland Out Today Party

Duchâtelet and AGOST

  • Duchâtelet was instrumental in the council decision taken on 15th October 2007, to proceed with establishing the Autonoom Gemeentebedrijf door de Ontwikkeling van Sint-Truiden (AGOST). This new autonomous entity would be responsible for the disposal and acquisition of real estate, and the development and delivery of major capital projects for the city council. This decision was approved on 1st February 2008 by the Flemish minister for internal affairs, Open VLD member, Marino Keulen.
  • October 2009, council chairman Duchâtelet gives the job of AGOST CEO to his friend, fellow Open VLD member and political ally, Bart Lammens.  
  •  On 7th April 2011, councillor Filip Moers (SP.A) slams AGOST and Duchâtelet, complaining, among other things, about the involvement of private business interests in projects which should be aimed at meeting public social needs, this includes the introduction of commercial retail space in some schemes. Moers resigns from the AGOST board, leaving AGOST in the hands of CD&V and Open VLD
  •  In 2011, Duchâtelet becomes chairman of AGOST. 
  • On the party website, on 21st January 2012, N-VA demands that Bart Lammens resigns from AGOST. “We recognize the business achievements of Lammens, but the current balance between serving the interests of Duchâtelet and Sint-Truiden is no longer sustainable. His involvement with NV Stayen is a bridge too far to maintain an illusion of independence.” 
  •  At the city council meeting of 19th March 2012, the AGOST annual accounts for 2011 are heavily criticized. There are accusations of lavish expenditure amid heavy financial loses, which are having to be met by the city tax-payers. To date a total of €800,000 has been spent on professional fees, without a single brick yet laid. 
  • At the city council meeting of 16 th April 2012, chairman Duchâtelet requests the council approve a further capital contribution of €250,000 to AGOST.  
  • 5th October 2012, AGOST: The financial downfall of Sint-Truiden: In an article on his website, Mayor Ludwig Vandenhove questions the nature of Duchâtelet’s relationship with AGOST CEO Bart Lammens. He criticises wasteful spending and speaks out against poor governance and a lack of transparency at AGOST. 
  •  Agenda item 044 of the city council minutes, relating to the meeting held on 22nd October 2012, confirms Duchâtelet’s appointment as chairman of AGOST. Duchâtelet and his partner Marieke Höfte, own NV Stayen, a company founded on property speculation and development. Did this now represent a clear conflict of interest?   
  • 22nd January 2013, Luc Schepens (Stadspartij), reported that, after a vote on the council agenda items relating to AGOST, council chairman Jef Cleeren (CD&V) announced that he had thirty-three STVV season-tickets, donated to the councilors by AGOST CEO, Bart Lammens. Cleeren distributed them following the meeting. Schepens asks whether this might be the first in a series of bribes. 
  • 2nd May 2013, writing on his website, Filip Moers tells of three independent experts who were nominated for the AGOST new board of directors. He points out that two of the three were candidates in the October 2012 municipal elections; one on the CD&V list and the other on the Open VLD list. Consequently he questions their independence.
  •  In the council minutes of 2nd July 2015, Jelle Engelbosch (N-VA) talks about AGOST’s lack of transparency, where important decisions that impact the city, are routinely taken by a few board members and then presented as a fait-accompli. Filip Moers (SP.A) talked about the new sports hall project at Veemarkt. He said that at the AGOST executive committee on 18th May 2015, approval of the specifications had been on the agenda of the board of directors. However, the specifications tender was due to be opened on 4th May 2015, two weeks before the specifications were due to be approved. According to Bart Lammens this arrangement was to save time. He added that the tenders had not yet been opened, but they would be opened the day after the specifications were approved. A request by council members to know exactly when the tenders would be opened was refused, - this appears to be a clear breach of public procurement legislation. A print date of 15th January 2015, was given on the specifications. When asked why the specification could not have been printed and approved at a previous board meeting, the answer given was that the printer was unreliable. Having refused the request to witness the opening of the tenders, the AGOST CEO acknowledged he’d made a mistake and he announced the tenders would be opened the next day. However, this turned out to be misleading since the tenders had already been opened. 
  •  From the same minutes of 2nd July 2015, following on from Jelle Engelbosch, councilor Jo François (N-VA), made further claims of poor governance and lack of transparency against AGOST. Inappropriately the management committee often takes decisions without reference to the executive board of directors, he said. To improve this situation Jo François proposed an amendment to the AGOST articles of association, requiring all political groups be represented on the AGOST executive. This proposal was defeated with fifteen votes (SP.A & N-VA) in favour, and sixteen votes (CD&V & Open VLD) against.