War on terror: foundations to disclose accounts

15th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

15 July 2004, AMSTERDAM — Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm has decided all registered foundations, and possibly all associations, will be compelled to disclose their annual accounts as part of the battle to cut funding for terrorism flowing through the Netherlands.

15 July 2004

AMSTERDAM — Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm has decided all registered foundations, and possibly all associations, will be compelled to disclose their annual accounts as part of the battle to cut funding for terrorism flowing through the Netherlands.

The tax office will also take a more active role in monitoring the financial activities of all registered foundations, or stichtingen, in the Netherlands, newspaper Financieele Dagblad revealed Thursday.

The newspaper based its report on a letter Zalm sent to Parliament.

The move comes a month after US and Saudi Arabian officials announced a joint crackdown on Muslim charities around the world they accuse of aiding Islamic terrorists.

One of the groups singled out, al-Haramain, is active in the Netherlands, Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh and Ethiopia.

The Saudi ambassador to the Netherlands, Waleed el Khereiji, claimed he had informed the then Dutch foreign minister, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, in 2003 that the Saudi authorities had banned all of al-Haramain's overseas activities.

But because al-Haramain's office in Amsterdam was a registered charitable foundation in the Netherlands, the Saudi authorities could not shut it down.

Al-Haramain denies the accusations made against it.

Officially, Zalm took the decision to tighten supervision of foundations in reaction to an investigation by the financial expertise centre FEC which revealed in February that Dutch foundations were an attractive option for terrorists and criminals to finance their activities.

Currently, only foundations involved in commercial activities and with an annual turnover of EUR 3.5 million or more are obliged to file annual accounts. Zalm wants to abolish this "high threshold".

There are more than 135,034 non-profit foundations registered with local chamber of commerce offices around the Netherlands covering a huge range of causes, groups and movements.

A foundation can be set up to promote a good cause such as public safety or represent a secular or religious charity.

The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam is administered by a foundation as is the national news broadcaster NOS. Amateur and semi-professional theatre and music groups also often regulate their financial affairs via a foundation

There are also a plethora of associations in the Netherlands. The minister said in his letter that associations "can be vulnerable to abuse" and he was considering imposing a tighter regime on them.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004 + Novum Nieuws]

Subject: Dutch news, terrorism, foundations

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