Second minister denies fraud link
8 April 2004
AMSTERDAM — Dutch Education Minister Maria van der Hoeven has brushed off suggestions that she was linked to the multi-million fraud in the HBO higher professional education sector.
Prior to being appointed minister in July 2002, Van der Hoeven was on the board of the Catholic higher education foundation in the South Holland province, which had responsibility for the Technical College (Technische Hogeschool) in Rijswijk.
The final report of the Schutte Commission, which was published at the start of April, confirmed that the Rijswijk Technical College incorrectly claimed EUR 2.3 million in financial support from the government from 1999 to 2002.
The Rijswijk college merged with another school (The Hague School of Higher Education or Haagse Hogeschool) in 2003.
The commission, under the leadership of former parliamentarian Gerrit Jan Schutte, was created to investigate allegations that HBO colleges enrolled non-existent students to claim higher government subsidies.
While a member of Parliament, Van der Hoeven served on the board of the educational foundation from April 1999 to June 2002.
A spokesman for the minister confirmed that as part of her duties on the board she would have checked and approved the annual accounts.
But she would not have been comprehensively aware of the manner in which additional funds were sought. She did not have a decision making role in that regard either, news agency Novum reported.
“She was a normal member of the foundation board and financial affairs were not part of her brief,” the spokesman said.
While no allegations of wrongdoing have been levelled against Van der Hoeven herself, the issue comes hot on the heels of claims the husband of Transport Minister Karla Peijs was linked to the multi million euro building fraud scandal.
On Wednesday, newspaper De Volkskrant alleged that the Transport Minister’s husband, Rinus Platschorre, was involved in meetings of an illegal cartel within the cement industry.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news + fraud