Tuesday 21 March 2023

Staffing agency Randstad joins legal fight over ‘charity’ face masks initiative

Sywert van Lienden in a still from a Hulptroepen.nl YouTube promo

Staffing agency Randstad is taking legal action against three men who earned millions of euros from a controversial deal to sell face masks to the government, while claiming they represented a charitable organisation.

The company provided 15 workers free of charge to work for the foundation Stichting Hulptroepen Alliantie, set up by television pundit and civil servant Sywert van Lienden and his business partners Bernd Damme and Camille van Gestel.

However, it later transpired that the trio had set up a private company after winning a €100m government order, and that the face masks were bought and sold under its auspices, netting Van Lienden €9m and the others €5m each.

Randstad’s legal affairs chief Patrick van der Herberg told website Follow The Money that the company had been told the initiative was non-profit, and said he was shocked to discover millions of euros had been made by the founders.

‘What happened is not right,’ he said. ‘Then you have to take action.’


In October, lawyer Peter Plasman said 12 people who worked for the foundation as volunteers were planning to take legal action against the foundation. Comedian Youp van ‘t Hek even pledged to hold a benefit show to raise money.

Van Lienden has refused to return the money to the state, and says he wants to donate the money to a cancer research charity.

Meanwhile, the 40 million face masks which Van Lienden imported remain in a warehouse because they are both surplus to requirements and there are concerns about their safety.

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