Massive property development fraud case comes to trial at last

Hearings begin on Thursday in a massive fraud case centred on the sale and development of property by the Philips pension fund and developer Bouwfonds.

According to the Financieele Dagblad, 46 days have been set aside for the hearings into the ‘biggest case’ in the history of the Fiod-ECD economic crime investigation department.
Corruption and bribery involving the directors of the Philips pension fund and project developer Bouwfonds are thought to have cost their employers a combined €250m.
Market rates
The scandal came to light in 2007 when it emerged pension fund bosses had been taking bribes in return for passing on confidential information and had bought and sold property at below the market rates. The fraud had been under way since at least 1995.
So far, a number of the biggest players have reached out of court settlements and will avoid a trial.
This January, a deal was reached over the involvement of building firm Trimp & Van Tartwijk. The deal included fines of up to €1.5m for the firm, personal fines, and a 120 hour community service sentence for company director Harm Trimp.
Last June The Hague property developer Harry Hilders reached a €40m out of court settlement with the justice ministry and Philips pension fund in connection with his role in the fraud. Another deal involving property developer Jan van Vlijmen amounted to €75m.
At least 12 other suspects in the case have also reached settlements totalling €3.7m and involving short community service sentences.
Phone taps
But some 40 people will face charges in court over the coming months, the paper says.
The investigation involved tapping 70,000 telephone conversations, as well as secret surveillance of meetings at the Mövenpick hotel in Den Bosch, the paper says.
The probe came to a head in November 2007, when over 600 police and officials were involved in raids all over the country. People were arrested in 67 different locations.

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