Expansion of the Public Administration (Probity Screening) Act in the fight against organised crime

Real estate and land transactions in which the government is involved as a civil party will come under the Public Administration (Probity Screening) Act (BIBOB). This will prevent governments from unintentionally doing business with mala fide parties. The operation of slot machines, the exploitation of ‘head shops’ and the import of fireworks will also come under BIBOB. In order to prevent the mixing of the underworld and legitimate society, mayors will have the power to close businesses where legal but also illegal activities take place. The council of ministers has agreed to this expansion of the Act upon recommendation from Minister Hirsch Ballin of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and of Justice.

BIBOB will allow governments (mainly municipalities) to investigate the background of a company or person before a permit or licence is issued or a public contract is awarded. If there are criminal antecedents or unclear financial constructions, the permit, subsidy or contract may be refused. This will prevent the government from unintentionally supporting crime and will prevent the mixing of the underworld and legitimate society. When investigating the background of a company or person, municipalities can request assistance from the national BIBOB Bureau, which issues advice.

BIBOB legislation only applies to certain branches and activities: with respect to catering, construction, waste and transport licences, in the transport industry, with respect to housing corporations, coffee shops, brothels and ‘smart shops’ and ‘grow shops’. With respect to public tenders, BIBOB applies to the construction, environment and IT branches. After the expansion, BIBOB will include the operation of slot machines, the import of fireworks, ‘head shops’ and real estate transactions with a government. Phone shops and after-hours hairdressers, for example, do not require a licence, which means that they currently do not come under BIBOB. Various municipalities suspect that these types of stores are very susceptible to criminal influencing and that criminals often shift to these types of branches. Mayors will therefore be given the possibility to also have a BIBOB investigation performed into companies that do not require a licence from the government. If the investigation shows that a company is mala fide, the mayor will have the power to close such a business.

A number of improvements and amendments should simplify BIBOB for municipalities and improve the legal protection of companies and persons.

  • A national register containing an overview of all BIBOB investigations performed in the last two years, and the findings, will be set up. This will allow a municipality to learn that another municipality had already previously investigated a company or person, for example.
  • Mayors will be able to directly acquire judicial and criminal data pertaining to companies and persons in all BIBOB sectors.
  • The term within which the national BIBOB Bureau must issue advice will be extended from four to eight weeks, with a possibility for extension of four weeks.
  • Many municipalities make use of external complaints committees during objection procedures. Those external committees will also have the possibility to inspect advice from the national BIBOB Bureau.
  • Those who object to a refusal to award a permit, subsidy or contract, will have the right to a copy of the advice of the national BIBOB Bureau.

The council of ministers has agreed to the legislative proposal being sent to the Council of State for its opinion. The text of the legislative proposal and the opinion of the Council of State will published upon submission to the Lower House of Parliament.