Construction sector hit by more fraud allegations
16 February 2004
AMSTERDAM — The Public Prosecution Office (OM) has launched an inquiry after documents were uncovered at a Dutch construction company indicating that fraud within the building sector is much worse than previously thought.
The documents were found at the Rijswijk-based company, Boele & Van Eesteren, a subsidiary of Koninklijke Volker Wessels Stevin. The documents detail alleged illegal pricing agreements for building projects between 1998 and 2001, public news service NOS reported.
The price fixing allegations imply that universities, hospitals and schools were defrauded of hundreds of thousands and possibly up to EUR 1 million for various building works. Price agreements were also allegedly made for commercial and home construction projects.
Newspaper De Telegraaf has also obtained the documents and reported over the weekend that about 90 companies were involved in price agreements for 250 construction projects. Large companies such as Bam, Ballast Nedam, IBC Bouw, TBI and Dura Vermeer were allegedly involved.
Construction company Heijmans lodged a report with competition watchdog NMa on Friday about a possible breach of regulations by its subsidiary IBC Bouw. The suspected breaches occurred in home and commercial construction projects between 1995 and 2001.
The documents seized at Boele en Van Eesteren are reportedly on a par with the shadow account keeping at construction company Koop Tjuchem, which led to parliamentary, judicial and NMa inquiries. The inquiries investigated fraud in the construction of roads, tunnels and bridges.
The chairwoman of the parliamentary inquiry, MP Marijke Vos, said the latest discoveries indicated that company commissioners of the large Dutch building firms had failed to take adequate steps to implement better supervision in light of the commission’s December 2002 findings, newspaper De Volkskrant reported.
“It is unbelievable that companies linked to the first allegations never investigated illegal practices elsewhere in their company,” she said. “After everything came to light about road construction, you could expect a profound investigation by the commissioners into the other activities of their company.”
In light of the latest revelations, Ballast Nedam, the BAM Groep, Heijmans and Volker Wessels have sought contact with the NMa, and the OM has launched a new investigation.
The Lower House of Parliament, the Tweede Kamer, has also demanded answers about the scandal, which possibly implicates Almere Mayor and former transport and economic affairs minister Annemarie Jorritsma.
Jorritsma has a 6.3 percent stake in Jorritsma Bouw, which is alleged to have miscalculated the pricing for a school construction project in Dronten. Both she and her brother-in-law were reportedly mentioned in the documents indicating an overpayment by Boele & van Eesteren, but the former minister has denied any involvement in wrong doing.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news