Dutch govt wants money paid to ex-minister back
The Dutch Lower House wants the government to reclaim EUR 280,000 wrongfully paid to a former Labour Party minister employed.27 May 2008
THE NETHERLANDS - The Dutch Lower House wants the government to reclaim money wrongfully paid to a former Labour Party minister employed since 2002 by UNDP, the United Nations Development Programme.
On Monday, Eveline Herfkens was acquitted of charges that she abused her position at the UNDP for personal gain. Herfkens had been accused of violating the UN's internal code of conduct by accepting EUR 280,000 from the Dutch government, in order to pay for her New York apartment and her removal costs when she moved to Maryland.
In a letter to Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, Kemal Dervis, the director of UNDP, revealed that Herfkens had signed a document stating that she had received a copy of UN rules. These rules state that UN employees are not allowed to receive compensation from their government.
Nevertheless, he also said Herfkens was never specifically informed that she was breaking the rules. He says the Dutch government should themselves have known about the regulations. The UNDP chief also accepted some of the blame, admitting that Herfkens’ introduction to the UN had been inadequate.
On Monday Verhagen told parliament that he hadn’t read the letter, but accepted that his department had made mistakes. "The ministry should not have paid compensation to Herfkens and she should not have accepted it," he said.
The foreign ministry will investigate whether it is legally possible to retrieve the money.
In April, the minister told the house that Herfkens had twice refused to pay back the sum, but he would demand she return it if it was discovered that she had knowingly broken the rules.
The former development cooperation minister believes she has done nothing wrong, because the Dutch government offered her the compensation when she was given the UNDP job. She says paying the money back would be an admission of guilt.
[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]