The scale of cocaine smuggling at the port of Antwerp – through which half of Europe’s supply of the drug reportedly passes – is so vast that corruption of local politics is inevitable, the city’s mayor has said.
Bart De Wever, who has been mayor since 2013, said the enormous amount of cash flooding in because of drug smuggling at Europe’s second biggest port has permeated the Belgian city.
De Wever said people on benefits were accumulating vast property portfolios while “entrepreneurs who are less than 30 years old … build banquet halls of 2,000 sq metres, completely finished in marble”.
The mayor, who is also the leader of Belgium’s Flemish nationalist party, the N-VA, said: “The port is as leaky as a colander … The cash that we handle in the cocaine trade is enormous.
“This is going to penetrate all of society,” he told De Morgen newspaper. “The influence of the money volume is not limited to certain districts. This is going to permeate politics. I dare say: in Antwerp we are on the verge that people are also buying political influence.”