Government bodies will soon be able to warn each other of criminal activities

Municipalities, provinces and civil service departments will soon be able to inform each other if they see that criminals are trying to abuse government services. This could be a strong suspicion that criminals are involved in a company that is trying to launder money in a different municipality, for example, by means of a licence application, public contract or real estate transaction. The Dutch Upper House of Parliament today approved a bill to amend the Public Administration (Probity Screening) Act, which regulates this, among other things.

According to Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, Minister of Justice and Security, the legislative amendment is very important for protecting the integrity of the government from interconnectedness between the underworld and mainstream society.

‘If things become too risky for a criminal network in one municipality and it tries to proceed with its illegal practices in a different municipality, for example, the mayors must be able to warn each other,’

said the minister. The new legislative amendment is expected to come into force on 1 October.

Government bodies can use the Public Administration (Probity Screening) Act to create barriers against them unwittingly facilitating criminal organisations, by refusing or revoking decisions and orders, public contracts or property transactions if there is a risk that these may be abused for criminal activities. On a regular basis, criminals get so-called ‘straw owners’ to submit permit applications for them or use sham arrangements with intermediaries to mislead administrative bodies. The Public Administration (Probity Screening) Act therefore also looks at the integrity of the business contacts of the person concerned.

With the extension of the Act, it will become possible for government bodies to share information about the risk of criminal abuse. The National Public Administration Probity Screening Agency (Landelijk Bureau Bibob, LBB) will soon be able to check whether screening investigations by other government bodies have revealed a serious risk that decisions, orders, government contracts or property transactions will be misused to commit criminal offences. At present, it is only possible to request information concerning screening investigations conducted by the LBB itself. It will soon also be possible to share information about the risks surrounding certain business contacts of a person of interest, such as a capital provider or a person who actually pulls the strings in the background through a construction involving a straw owner.