Authorities can more easily tip each other off regarding criminal activities

Municipalities, provinces and the central government will soon be able to more quickly and efficiently inform each other when there is a considerable risk of a permit, public contract or property transaction being misused for criminal activities. This not only concerns those with whom the government does ‘business’, but also their business contacts. When things get too dicey for a criminal network in a particular municipality and it wants to continue its subversive activities elsewhere, authorities need to be able to share information about this and mayors, for instance, must be able to warn each other.

Municipalities, provinces and the central government will soon be able to more quickly and efficiently inform each other when there is a considerable risk of a permit, public contract or property transaction being misused for criminal activities. This not only concerns those with whom the government does ‘business’, but also their business contacts. When things get too dicey for a criminal network in a particular municipality and it wants to continue its subversive activities elsewhere, authorities need to be able to share information about this and mayors, for instance, must be able to warn each other.
 
This lies at the core of a legislative proposal by Minister of Justice and Security Grapperhaus and Minister for Legal Protection Dekker, which was submitted for consultation today via the Internet. By further expanding on the Public Administration (Probity Screening) Act, they hope to head off criminals who intend to stealthily misuse government services and undermine the public administration by doing so. A permit may be denied or revoked, for instance, if the risk is deemed too high.
 
Sometimes, criminals have straw persons submit applications for them, or they use sham arrangements to mislead administrative bodies. It can also happen that someone is denied a permit in Municipality X because the risk of them misusing government services is judged to be too high, but they subsequently succeed in obtaining a permit in Municipality Y because the Y authorities are unaware of the risks. Malicious individuals will often try to obtain permits from various municipalities and will continue trying this until they find a municipality that either does not apply the Public Administration (Probity Screening) Act or underestimates the risk.
 
In order to deal with these activities, the sharing of information will be made easier. For example, pursuant to the proposal, municipalities will in the near future be able to enquire with the National Public Administration Probity Screening Agency (LBB) as to whether an unacceptable risk has been identified in Public Administration (Probity Screening) Act screenings carried out by other administrative bodies. At present, it is only possible to request information concerning recommendations issued by the LBB itself. The option to share the results of screenings that are up to five years old is also new. The current limit is two years. The Tax and Customs Administration can also share information about fines that have been imposed due to the deliberate provision of incorrect information to the tax authorities.
 
Authorities and mayors, for instance, can also inform each other if they possess valuable information that may give reason to conduct a Public Administration (Probity Screening) Act screening. The intention is to send out a warning, as soon as there is a strong suspicion that criminals may be involved in a business and have obtained or requested a permit (or another decision) from another administrative body. In the near future, authorities will under certain conditions be permitted to share information from a Public Administration (Probity Screening) Act file with each other. That information can be used to demonstrate that something is ‘amiss’ and may give cause for the authority in question to then initiate its own screening.
 
With these additions, the government will be better equipped to protect its integrity against the unintended facilitation of criminal activities. The changes are part of the Dutch government's action agenda for tackling subversion.
 
The ministers are also working on a legislative proposal that will make joint data processing by various government services and any private partners easier. A protocol that prescribes the types of information that different municipal services and departments may use for the purpose of tackling subversion will be established as well.