Saturday 13 August 2022

Tax officials face criminal investigation over child benefit scandal


The finance ministry has asked the public prosecution department to investigate potential criminal charges relating to the childcare benefit scandal, tax ministers Hans Vijlbrief and Alexandra van Huffelen have told MPs.

The investigation will focus on two separate charges, that of systematic discrimination and that of civil service extortion. In Dutch law knevelarij refers to ‘the deliberate and wrongful demanding of payments by a civil servant.’

The decision to request a criminal investigation follows the recommendations of independent legal experts who say there is ‘reasonable suspicion’ that a crime has been committed.

However, the expert report stresses that the conclusions do not state whether or not this has actually happened.

‘We consider it important to stress this,’ the ministers say. ‘The determination of whether criminal acts have been committed is up to the judge after a criminal investigation and further consideration by the public prosecutor.’

Five civil servants have been suspended while the investigation is carried out, RTL Nieuws reported.

Earlier this month the tax office has admitted singling out people with dual nationality for extra checks, and said that 11,000 people were subjected to more stringent screening because of this.

Most of the families caught up in the childcare benefit scandal, and who were wrongly ordered to pay back thousands of euros in benefits, had ethnic minority backgrounds.

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