Dutch prosecutor demands fine for money laundering Ballast Nedam
THE HAGUE - The Dutch Public Prosecution (OM) demanded a fine of € 50,000 and six months of conditional prison sentence against 70-year-old Rob A. According to the OM, he is guilty of laundering € 1.5 million in bribes.
The suspect took that money for himself out of the hundreds of millions of euros of bribes that contractor Ballast Nedam paid to Saudi and Surinamese officials and politicians around the turn of the century. The Public Prosecutor also wants to reclaim € 858,497 in an illegally obtained benefit from A.
Rob A. was financial director of Ballast Nedam International and director of Ballast Nedam Group. After his formal departure from the construction company in 1997, A. continued to advise the Ballast Nedam until 2002 and remained with the Chamber of Commerce as director of the construction company.
According to the Public Prosecutor, an unconditional prison sentence is in place for Rob A. But because of his advanced age and because the facts have taken place so long ago, the Public Prosecution Service softened the demand.
Rob A. is the first and until now only employee of Ballast Nedam against whom punishment is demanded in this extensive corruption case. The construction company reached a financial agreement instead of a prosecution in 2012. The owner of Ballast Nedam during the bribe payments, the defense company British Aerospace, reached a settlement with the American justice. Accounting firm KPMG arranged in this affair with the Dutch Public Prosecution.
Partly because of the settlements with other parties involved, the court in Utrecht recently declared the OM inadmissible in an attempt to prosecute three former KPMG auditors. They would have covered bribes payments by Ballast Nedam in a shadow financial administration.
Rob A. was not present at his trial on Tuesday. He lives in Curaçao where he has a sugar cane company. The Fiod considers it 'plausible' that A. paid himself 37.5% of the $ 4.5 million he sent to the Deputy Director General of the Saudi tax authorities via the Liechtenstein company Roveco on behalf of Ballast Nedam in a Swiss number account. Part of the NLG 34.4 million of the bribe that Ballast Nedam paid to the Surinamese political party of President Bouterse, Rob A. paid to himself, without Ballast Nedam being aware of it.
According to counsel for Rob A., Gerard Spong, the accusation of the Public Prosecution against his client amounts to the fact that he "took a piece of crumbs" from the number of bribes from Ballast Nedam. It is a fraction of the bribes that Ballast Nedam paid to Saudis and Surinamese according to the Public Prosecution. Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal alone received a total of $ 458 million in bribes, the president of the Utrecht court quotes from the criminal file.
Ballast Nedam paid these bribes to Saudis and Surinamese to win contracts. In Saudi Arabia it concerns the construction of military airfields and in Suriname the construction of two bridges. Ballast Nedam employees called the bribes 'facilitating payments'. In the shadow financial administration, the recipients received names like Lucky Luke and Bassie and Adriaan. Rob A. goes under the pseudonym 'Rabbit' according to the OM.
Spong mentions the persecution of A. 'class justice', because the companies settled: 'This is a totally unacceptable arbitrary attitude of the Public Prosecution'. According to Spong, the court must declare the OM inadmissible. According to him, the Public Prosecutor drew a settlement offer to his client too late. As financial director, A. 'only implemented the policy from above'. Spong: 'Bribe was in the DNA of Ballast Nedam.'
On Thursday, a second former Ballast Nedam director will be brought to trial for the appropriation of part of the bribe that was intended for Saudi workers.