Terschelling mayor accused of whistleblower payoff: report

Rob Bats (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Rob Bats)Rob Bats (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Rob Bats)

The municipality of Terschelling pad a whistle blower 155 thousand euros to resign, the Volkskrant reports. This happened while Rob Bats (VVD) was interim mayor of Terschelling.

This whistle blower, an accountant, reported an accounting scandal and warned of financial problems around a reorganization. The accountant was put on special leave shortly after refusing to adjust a claim at Bats' request so that the mayor would not get into trouble with the municipal council. According to the newspaper, the problems the accountant warned about has now become a reality. A review recently published by the municipality states that part of the reorganization was "very problematic for financial reasons".

According to the municipality, the accountant had to leave because he was not performing well. Documents in the newspaper's possession shows that he repeatedly uttered criticisms while the municipality was expecting "a positive attitude". His warnings of financial problems was seen as a direct attack on executives.

The accountant claims that in 2012 he was forced to hide a shortfall of 300 thousand euros with money from the salary budget. Bats, who was mayor of Terschelling since 2012 but recently retired, had this investigated by an "independent" agency. It now appears that this agency was an accounting firm in Haarlem that was substantively involved in the issue. The investigators did not found any evidence that money had been moved around in the budget, but stated that it "could not be ruled out".

According to the Volkskrant, the municipality did not want to comment on the amount paid to the accountant as severance pay. A spokesperson for the new mayor, Bert Wassink, said that the usual procedure was used which takes the employment history into account. The municipality is threatening legal action if the whistle blower seeks publicity.