Press Review Wednesday 30 June 2010

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Dutch central bank chief Nout Wellink comes under fire for the collapse of the DSB bank; Geert Wilders says no to a last chance for talks on a rightwing coalition, and a mass grave is uncovered in the Limburg countryside.

Report slams central bank chief The boss of DNB, the Dutch central bank, “did everything wrong, but keeps his job”. This is how AD sums up the story on all today’s front pages – the findings of an enquiry into DNB’s handling of the DSB bank, which collapsed spectacularly in October last year. DSB was the “plaything”, says AD, of the man from whose initials it took its name, Dirk Scheringa. The Scheltema inquiry has found that the central bank should never let Scheringa set out on his banking adventure in the first place. He was a “businessman not a banker” comments protestant daily Trouw.

The inquiry puts the blame for DSB’s demise squarely on its owner – he managed it badly, put profit before the interests of his customers, and poured millions of euros from the bank into football club AZ and his grandiose museum of realist art, AD sums up. But the person “carpeted” in the report is central bank chief Nout Wellink, says de Telegraaf. He underestimated the risk of DSB’s dodgy practices and failed to “show his teeth”. Then when DSB was going bust he sat back and left it to the other banks to sort out the problem.

Yet caretaker Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager said the central bank boss still had his “full confidence”, De Telegraaf reports. And Mr Wellink himself tells de Volkskrant he has “no regrets” about the way he handled the situation.

The papers have a different take on the matter – the editorials are unanimous. Nout Wellink should do the honourable thing and resign – or get the chop.

Infamous café magnate meets his match The literal demise of another dodgy businessman is again filling today’s column inches – the country’s most notorious café owner, Sjoerd Kooistra, found dead in his apartment on Monday. Kooistra had just received an ultimatum to cough up a two million euro debt to brewery Heineken. His lawyer and friend Oscar Hammerstein no relation of the man who wrote The Sound of Music says he left no less than three suicide notes, one in each of his luxurious houses. But this doesn’t stop either or de Telegraaf from speculating that it could have been murder.

The bar and restaurant magnate owed his infamy to his unscrupulous approach to amassing his millions, de Volkskrant explains. He would buy up a successful café in a prime location, give it a face-lift, then lease it to a hopeful new boss at an exorbitant rate. He would then rake off the profit until the business went bust. However, sheltering behind a cunning tangle of limited companies, he always made sure he personally stayed beyond the grasp of baying creditors. With beer giant Heineken he apparently met his match. Oscar Hammerstein reckons the brewer “drove him to his death”.

Wilders says he’s not bonkers Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders has turned down another overture from free-market liberal VVD chief Mark Rutte to form a rightwing cabinet, de Telegraaf reports. And de Volkskrant concludes it’s the last nail in the coffin of a rightwing coalition. Mr Wilders paints a picture of a political elite conspiring to shut his party out, thus ignoring his 1.5 million voters.

Mr Rutte’s exchange with Mr Wilders came in a debate in parliament on the ongoing cabinet formation saga. De Volkskrant has the details. “If purple plus comes, it will be your fault,” Mr Rutte told the far-right leader. ‘Purple plus’ would be a coalition headed by the ‘blue’ VVD on the right, along with three other ‘red’ left-of-centre parties. With the World Cup on everyone’s mind, Mr Rutte reached for a soccer metaphor: “Like a footballer, you’re lying on the pitch when you haven’t even been tackled.”

It’s the Christian Democrat CDA party that’s standing in the way of a coalition with Mr Wilders – they would be needed to make up the numbers. Protestant Trouw explains the party has constitutional objections to the Freedom Party’s stance on issues such as “ethnic registration” and the “head rag tax”, a proposed tariff on the wearing of Islamic headscarves. However, they say they’d be ready to talk if the Freedom Party first struck a deal with the liberal VVD. Mr Wilders says it’s not worth the bother without having the CDA at the table too. AD reports his characteristic turn of phrase: “I’m not bonkers”.

Mass grave uncovered in Limburg village Trouw’s front page features a photo of a huge, open mass grave. But fortunately it’s not the gruesome evidence of a recent war crime, and the bones belonged to horses. In a village in the southern province of Limburg, archaeologists have uncovered a 50-metre trench filled with at least 52 horse skeletons.

The archaeologists reckon the grave dates from the 80-year war, the Dutch war of independence from Spain, which spanned the 16th and 17th centuries. The horses may well have met their end during the siege of Maastricht in 1632. But it will be hard to pin down a date as carbon dating for this period is too unreliable. One thing is sure: the steeds met a violent death – a lead bullet was found in one of the skulls.

Holiday time – but don’t spoil the kids As the summer holidays approach Trouw has some stern advice for parents: don’t take “a holiday from bringing up your kids”. The paper concludes that in the holidays, many Dutch parents forget about things like bedtime and not eating too many sweets, and the children are allowed to run riot.

But the kids end up grumpy and whining, and when school time comes around again, it’s impossible to get them back on track. Trouw’s advice: “Unfortunately, a parent never has a day off” – plan out the holiday in advance, and limit ice creams to one a day.”

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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