For many years the Dutch government lagged behind countries like the United States, the UK and Germany enforcing anti-corruption laws. But that has recently changed in a dramatic way.
Since then Dutch law was amended to raise jail sentences and maximum penalties for bribery (up to 10 percent of the revenue of a company). And Dutch authorities have been more actively prosecuting local and overseas bribery.
No wonder Transparency International raised the Netherlands from the “little or no enforcement category” to the “limited enforcement category.”
Last month the Dutch Volkswagen/Audi distributor Pon settled a bribery case for €12 million (about $12.7 million) with Dutch prosecutors related to a tender for the procurement of cars by the Dutch police force and Ministry of Defense. Representatives of Pon allegedly provided exclusive gifts, discounts on cars and trips abroad.
Six policemen and civil servants are still being investigated by the authorities, as well as a former employee of Pon. Seven other former employees of Pon have already settled.
Last week, the Dutch business newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad said Rudy Stroink, a Dutch businessman who used to own the now defunct company Trammell-Crow Netherlands (TCN), was summoned to appear in court. Stroink allegedly paid €1.7 million through two third-party offshore companies to a representative of Google, Simon Tusha.
In exchange, Tusha allegedly decided that Google would use the data centers of TCN in The Netherlands.
Tusha, an American who lives in Maryland, pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court in May this year to a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States.
He failed to report kickback or bribe payments from TCN and a UK company, Evolved IT. The Justice Department said from 2008 through 2010 Tusha received more than $2.7 million that he didn’t report to the IRS. He hasn’t been sentenced yet.
U.S. and Dutch authorities apparently cooperated two years ago when Netherlands-based SBM Offshore paid $240 million to resolve a Dutch enforcement action for overseas bribery, and the U.S. DOJ simultaneously gave SBM a declination.
Earlier this year, Amsterdam-based VimpelCom paid Dutch authorities $397.5 million and the U.S. DOJ and SEC $397.6 million to resolve bribery offenses related to Uzbekistan.
Last month, Swedish telcom TeliaSonera said it reserved $1.45 billion for a settlement of bribery charges also related to Uzbekistan, again with both Dutch and U.S. authorities.
The prosecution of Rudy Stroink seems to be the latest result of the increased cooperation between the U.S. and Dutch authorities.
Geert Vermeulen, pictured above, is the CEO of ECMC (Ethics & Compliance Management & Consulting). He is a teacher, consultant and interim/project manager in respect of Ethics & Compliance. He gained most of his experience in-house as Chief Compliance Officer in the insurance and the logistics industry. He is also a former Director of the Netherlands Compliance Institute and the former President of the Dutch Compliance Officer Association. He can be contacted here.