Punishment enough

Christian Democratic party elder statesman Hans Wijffels, now the Dutch representative at the World Bank, has added his voice to the row over UN diplomat Eveline Herfkens’ €190,000 rent top-up.

Speaking on current affairs tv show Buitenhof on Sunday, Wijffels said foreign minister Maxime Verhagen was going ‘very far’ in his efforts to reclaim the money which Herfkens was paid against UN rules.
The Herfkens affair seems set to rumble on and on with no conclusion. Indeed, the amount of time and energy being wasted on it is an example of the Netherlands at its most petty-minded.
Herfkens says she did not do anything wrong in taking the money because she had been too busy to read the UN rule book when she got her job as special advisor to Kofi Annan. And that makes sense. How many people can honestly say they have read their own company’s code of conduct and never break it?
But she is not the only one to blame. It was someone in government who approved the extra cash payout over all those years and that is someone who also should have known better.
There are a lot more important things to worry about and go to court about than this. Verhagen should close this chapter as soon as possible. Herfkens gave an arrogant interview to the NRC when the story broke and ruined her reputation in the process. That is punishment enough.

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