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Last Updated: Monday, 12 January, 2004, 11:16 GMT
Ex-Nato official on fraud charge
By Geraldine Coughlan
BBC, The Hague

The trial of a former Nato official accused of trying to launder $200m from drug-trafficking has opened in the Netherlands.

Prosecutors claim Jan Willem Matser was planning to cash false bank bonds from Colombia in the Netherlands to use for investments in Romania.

Three other suspects, two Dutch and one Italian, are also on trial.

They are all charged with fraud, forgery and criminal conspiracy as well as money-laundering.

Mining plans

Mr Matser worked as Eastern Europe advisor to Nato. He allegedly obtained false bank bonds from Colombia, sent to him by his co-accused, Pietro Fedino, an Italian.

Mr Fedino was convicted here recently of dealing in cocaine.

The prosecution claims Mr Matser intended to cash the false bonds but he denies he knew the securities were not genuine.

Sources in Romania say he planned to invest in Romanian banks, tourism and infrastructure.

Reports say he wanted to buy an oil and mining conglomerate run by tycoon Ovidiu Tender when he cashed in on the Columbian securities.

Mr Matser's arrest in Belgium last February made front-page news in Romania.


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