Dutch notaries accused of money laundering
Notaries play a role in at least 30 criminal networks in the Netherlands, say director of Financial Supervisory Bureau.15 July 2008
THE NETHERLANDS - In an interview with newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad, the director of the Financial Supervisory Bureau (BFT), Folkert Winkel, has revealed that notaries play a role in at least 30 criminal networks in the Netherlands. No more than five of these networks are known to the justice authorities.
The BFT operates on behalf of the Justice Ministry to ensure lawyers, notaries and accountants keep to the government's rules for combating money laundering. It also carries out checks to ensure that notaries and bailiffs are financially sound.
As the law stands, the BFT is not allowed to pass on its information about the networks to the Public Prosecutor's Office. Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin is expected to present proposals at the end of this year to broaden the BFT's remit.
Winkel says he wants to send a signal, now that notaries are very much in the news. In May this year three notaries were arrested on charges of aiding and abetting mortgage fraud. In June, the office of a notary was raided in connection with his role in a real estate swindle.
The BFT director says the criminal networks deal in the quick purchase and sale of houses, with the result that the values of the properties are artificially raised. Mortgage brokers are also misled by false valuations. The notaries work as advisers to the criminal organisations.
In 2007, this kind of fraud by criminal networks accounted for at least EUR 24 million, which was written off as loss by the National Mortgage Guarantee Fund.
Notaries failed to report 124 suspect transactions in 2007. Following talks with the BFT, one office belatedly reported 23 unusual transactions. The other offices involved are currently subject to disciplinary action by the BFT.
[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]