Justice ministers under fire over drugs lord payment

Justice ministers under fire over drugs lord payment

Justice minister Ivo Opstelten wrongly informed parliament about a deal struck by his deputy with a drugs lord in 2000, television current affairs show Nieuwsuur said on Wednesday.The programme said Teeven actually authorised a payment of 4.7 million guilders to convicted drugs dealer Cees H, not two million guilders as Opstelten told parliament a year ago. Nieuwsuur bases its claims on ‘multiple’ documents from the public prosecution department and other sources.Opstelten told parliament a year ago he had been unable to trace any documents proving the size of the transaction. The deal to refund convicted drugs smuggler Cees H was approved by Teeven, who was then a public prosecutor.[banner]The deal, which was kept secret from the tax authorities, hit the headlines in March 2014 when H’s lawyer at the time said his client had been paid back five million guilders.The public prosecution department had sequestered around five million guilders in assets from drugs lord Cees H – including property and jewellery. However, the department was unable to prove the assets had been obtained illegally and so most of the money was returned to H.LuxemburgAccording to H’s lawyers, some five million guilders was paid back to H via a Luxemburg bank account, effectively laundering the money. Cees H was one of the leaders of a smuggling network known as Octopus which brought tons of cannabis from Pakistan into the Netherlands.Opstelten said last year there are no financial details about the deal available because it happened too long ago and the documents had not been kept. In addition, IT systems have changed.H’s current lawyer Jan-Hein Kuijper told the Pauw chat show later on Wednesday evening that he is in possession of the missing receipt. ‘I can confirm that the amount mentioned in Nieuwsuur is correct,’ Kuijpers said. However, he will not go public with the receipt because his client does not want him to.’MPs said on Wednesday evening that Opstelten has a lot of explaining to do.  More >

Minister wins in child refugee case

Local councils don’t count in child refugee amnesty: Council of State Refugee children who are registered with the local council but not with national agencies such as the IND do not qualify for the amnesty for child refugees, the Council of State ruled on Wednesday.The council, which is the highest Dutch court, said in its ruling refugees have to 'actively' ensure they remain in full view of the national authorities.This is in line with the position taken by junior justice minister Fred Teeven, who has rejected several dozen amnesty applications by arguing the children had ‘dropped out of sight’.[banner]To qualify for the amnesty, children without proper papers must have been under the supervision of either the immigration service IND, the central refugee agency COA, the deportation service, the foreign police service or the Nidos guardianship institute, the court said.Being in touch with local councils and going to school is not sufficient to qualify for the amnesty because these bodies do not have a role in law in immigration policy, the ruling stated.DiscussionTeeven said in a reaction he hoped the council’s ruling would end the discussion about the amnesty for refugee children, which formed part of the coalition agreement between the right-wing VVD and the Labour party.Last year some 300 of the Netherlands’ 400 mayors signed a letter calling on Teeven to approve residency permits for children who were registered with the local authorities.AbsurdChild rights organisation Defence for Children described the court’s ruling as ‘absurd’.‘This ruling totally misunderstands children’s rights,’ the organisation said. ‘We are talking about well-integrated children, some of whom were born here and are 11 or 16 years old.’The ruling will have an impact on hundreds of children, the organisation said. Defence for Children plans to take the issue to the European Court of Human Rights.  More >

Dutch and Belgians fight terror together

Justice ministers under fire over drugs lord payment The Netherlands and Belgium have agreed to work more closely in fighting terrorism, delegations from both countries said on Wednesday following negotiations in The Hague.Agreement was also reached on cooperation between the two countries on the energy market, fighting fires in nature areas and sharing embassies, the Telegraaf reports.Eight ministers from each country took part in the discussions, led by their respective prime ministers, Mark Rutte and Charles Michel.[banner]Last week it was announced that the Dutch and Belgians will work together in defending the Benelux airspace. They will intercept civilian planes if there is a possibility they have been hijacked. Military airspace is already covered by Nato agreements.On Wednesday it was agreed that Dutch army fire-fighting helicopters will be used to put out large fires in areas of nature in Belgium, and that the two countries will merge their embassy in Congo.  More >

Dutch exports to EU fall

Justice ministers under fire over drugs lord payment Dutch exports to the European Union are falling while large economies such as the US and China are growing in importance, the central statistics agency CBS said on Wednesday.In 2002, 75% of Dutch exports went to EU member countries. This has now fallen to 67%, the CBS says. The reason can be found in the growing importance of exports to large economies such as the US and China, in particular in mineral fuels and machinery.The fall in exports to the EU is concentrated in countries which became members since 2002, such as Germany, France, Italy and the UK. For countries which joined the EU after 2002 there is a slight increase in Dutch exports, from 3.5% to 5.1%, the CBS says.[banner]However, the Netherlands remains one of the EU countries most orientated towards other member countries when it comes to exports. Only Slovakia, Luxemburg, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland export a higher value of products to EU countries.Greece exports the products to EU countries, just 48%, and is turning to Turkey as an important trading partner, according to the CBS.The Netherlands is not the only member country to show a decreasing interest in the EU, the CBS says. Only Malta, Bulgaria and Sweden showed an increase in interest in 2014. The biggest falls were in Lithuania, Greece and the UK.  More >

V&D is paying 8% interest to its owner

Justice ministers under fire over drugs lord payment Department store group V&D is playing 8% interest on a loan of millions of euros to its owner, private equity investor Sun Capital, broadcaster RTLZ says on Wednesday.The broadcaster bases its claims on internal V&D documents.Sun Capital took over V&D in 2010 and invested €105m in the stores, of which €65 was in the form of three loans. Last month Sun Capital injected a further €60m into the company, of which half was a loan. In total, almost half of the €165m which Sun has invested in V&D is in the form of four loans.[banner]Although neither side will state what the interest rates are, the internal documents show that one €10m loan from 2013 is liable for an 8% interest payment - or €800,000 a year, RTLZ says.Although banks rarely charge such high interest rates, 'you often see them in this sort of take over,' bankruptcy expert Marc Udink told the broadcaster. 'In fact V&D is paying for its own takeover.'V&D is currently in serious financial trouble. The company, which has 63 department stores in the Netherlands, has agreed a temporary rent cut with its landlords and is in talks with the unions on reducing the workforce wages.  More >