Dutch news in brief, Thursday 22 October 2009

22nd October 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.

Dick Scheringa accused of stashing away private funds
The collapse of DSB Bank is still front-page news as De Telegraaf writes Pieter Lakeman – the financial investigator whose call to DSB savers to withdraw their money precipitated the bank’s demise – now accuses owner Dick Scheringa of having stashed away at least EUR 45 million in private accounts.

However, on the popular current affairs TV programme Pauw en Witteman, Scheringa claimed all he had left was his home and two other houses which he would have to sell to provide for himself.

According to De Telegraaf, Lakeman said the annual accounts of DSB Management (the owner of DSB Bank, from 1998 until 2007) showed Scheringa transferred many millions of euros to his private account.

DSB Management paid out EUR 8.16 million in dividends to Stichting Administratiekantoor Dirk Scheringa (Foundation Administrative Office Dick Scheringa), of which Scheringa and his wife are the only two board members.

In addition, DSB Management bought EUR 36.97 million worth of DSB stock from the Stichting Administratiekantoor Dirk Scheringa. The paper writes the receivers are unlikely to provide clarity on what happened to these millions.

Insiders said when DSB Management goes into receivership, the Stichting Administratiekantoor Dirk Scheringa, the sole shareholder of DSB Management will remain unaffected.

Tilburg mayor holds on to post
The other main front-page story is the political crisis in the southern town of Tilburg where a majority of the local council passed a vote of no-confidence in Mayor Ruud Vreeman Wednesday.

The mayor failed to inform the council of a EUR 1.9 million budget overrun in the construction of a new multi-media theatre.

Vreeman said that at the time he feared the town would have become ungovernable if the municipal executive had been forced to resign.

According to de Volkskrant, the position of Vreeman has become untenable, but “Vreeman refuses to admit defeat”.

Under Dutch law a local council cannot dismiss a mayor directly. It has to submit a recommendation of resignation to the interior minister via the provincial governor (the ‘Queen’s Commissioner’). The Commissioner could theoretically refuse the council’s request, but in actual practice, the Queen’s Commissioner does not have much of a choice if a majority of the council said the situation has become untenable.
On Wednesday evening, representatives of the council went to see Queen’s Commissioner Wim van de Donk of the province of Noord Brabant to inform him that relations between the mayor and the council had become ‘unworkable’ because of a “very serious violation of the democratic rules”.

A recent council inquiry investigating the multi-media theatre debacle showed that the executive had piled one serious mistake on top of another. He withheld information about cost overruns, did not properly monitor spending during construction and prepared the entire project badly.

The new multi-media theatre has held Tilburg in its grip since 2007. Tilburg wanted to convert an old cinema into a multi-media theatre, but the project turned into a major disaster. Earlier, two aldermen and an entire municipal executive resigned over the issue.
During Wednesday’s council meeting, Vreeman vigorously defended himself, arguing that he did not inform council members in 2008 about the budget overruns because he heard about the bribes allegedly accepted by one of the council members from the builder of a local shopping mall.

The mayor said he feared that if yet another executive were to fall because of the multi-media theatre, there would be nobody left to keep watch over the council’s integrity. He argued the town had been in danger of becoming ungovernable.

“I realised that corruption thrives best in an instable political climate. It raised the spectre of an ungovernable town with integrity issues. I was faced with a decision I could not share with anyone. It was an enormous dilemma, but I acted in good faith”.

Engineering firm proposes terraced dykes
Trouw reports Dutch engineering firm Arcadis has come up with an original solution to give the area around the Hedwige Polder in the southwest of the country a new incentive.
The Hedwige Polder, on the banks of the Western Scheldt, the estuary of the Scheldt river, is to be flooded as part of a scheme to compensate for the ecological damage resulting from planned dredging work intended to improve access to the Belgian port of Antwerp.
Arcadis proposes a terraced, multifunctional dyke, which protects against flooding, but also includes space for agriculture and recreation.

During low tide, the lower terraces can be used for recreation, nature education, and nature development in the form of mud flats and salt marshes as well as sea life culture in the form of mussel colonies. The second level of terraces can be used for the construction of bicycle paths and footpaths, which will be flooded during high tide.

The upper level would provide room for ‘briny agriculture’, including crops such as glasswort and sea lavender.
Arcadis said its new type of dyke is also suitable for other areas, including the Eastern Scheldt and the Wadden Sea coast.

In the United States, the city of San Francisco has expressed interest in the new Dutch design, which is considered very suitable for the San Francisco Bay, the city’s gateway to the Pacific Ocean.
Pathé to show world championship matches in cinemas
Free newspaper Sp!ts reports that theatre owner Pathé wants to “take Orange fans on virtual trip to South Africa”. Pathé Events spokesperson Darren Staines says the company is technically 100 percent ready to screen the Dutch national team’s matches in its theatres.
For the past three years, Pathé has been presenting a variety of live events in its theatres, including operas, plays and concerts. Staines says football matches are simply the next step in expanding the company’s services. 
Negotiations about distribution rights are still ongoing, but a sports marketing expert said FIFA, the global football union, is ultimately concerned about one thing -- money. “And I don’t see any reason why this idea would not generate additional revenue for FIFA”.

Radio Netherlands / Georg Scheuder Hes / Expatica

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