PVV economic affairs minister to renounce Hungarian passport

Dirk Beljaarts answering questions at the parliamentary hearing on Monday. Photo: ANP/HH/Robin Utrecht

Dirk Beljaarts, the man nominated by Geert Wilders as economic affairs minister in the new Dutch government, has told MPs he has started the process of renouncing his Hungarian nationality.

The 46-year-old, who qualifies for a Hungarian passport through his mother and is currently the honorary consul for Hungary, said he did not want his dual nationality to “divert attention”.

The issue was raised during the parliamentary hearings for prospective cabinet members, a new procedure introduced shortly before last November’s general election.

Beljaarts’s possession of a second passport has raised eyebrows because Wilders has argued for years that ministers or those holding political office should not be dual nationals, to avoid the appearance of divided loyalties.

Beljaarts told Volt MP Laurens Dassen his dual nationality had not been a “subject of conversation” when Wilders invited him to join the cabinet. He added that the process of relinquishing his Hungarian citizenship could take several months.

Bankrupt company

He was also grilled by MPs including Femke Zeedijk, of coalition party NSC, about his involvement in a hospitality firm that went bankrupt after racking up €2 million of debt.

KHN Rekenwerk, which was set up to handle the financial affairs of lobby organisation KHN Nederland, is the subject of an unpaid tax demand for more than €550,000, the Telegraaf reported at the weekend. The receiver is also investigating whether Beljaarts and his co-director, Niek Kwakkernaak, fulfilled their legal obligations.

Beljaarts insisted he was not to blame for the failure of the company, despite being appointed as a general manager in 2020. He said he had been a “long-distance manager” until 2023, when he was asked to take a more hands-on role because of the company’s poor performance.

He called the affair a “storm in a teacup” and said he had explained his involvement to PVV leader Geert Wilders and coalition negotiator Richard van Zwol after being nominated as minister.

He told the Telegraaf he had become more actively involved in the company’s affairs in 2023 and notified the authorities when his “intensive supervision” revealed indications of “alleged fraud”. Kwakkernaak disputed Beljaarts’s account but would not comment in detail because of the ongoing investigation.

“What is important in this context is to understand that I was only actively involved from the start of 2023, Beljaarts told MPs. “Before that time it was mainly the shareholders who oversaw the company’s activities.

“It’s no accident that the other manager is the subject of a complaint and has been held liable, not me. No blame has been attached to me and I can sit here with a clean conscience.”

Zeedijk said: “It would be desirable if we could get clarity before July 2 about whether the receiver plans to take measures against you.”

Restore trust

Beljaarts said in his introductory statement that he wanted to restore the trust of smaller business in politics while ensuring that the Dutch investment climate remained attractive for multinational companies.

“Ask a random small or medium-size business owner what they think about The Hague and you’ll hear responses such as ‘we’re unappreciated, we’re the cashpoint for The Hague, we don’t know where we stand and can’t something be done to ease the huge burden of regulation?'” he said.

“We need to work on a consistent and predictable long-term government policy so that business owners know where they stand and multinationals continue to choose us as an attractive country in which to invest.”


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