Dutch state rarely collects penalties it claims from organised crime

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The Dutch government does not have much success in collecting penalties form organized crime convicts, according to research by scientist Edwin Kruisbergen. Of the criminally obtained assets the Public Prosecutor demanded back from convicts as part of their sentence, only about a fifth ended up in the treasury, Kruisbergen concluded in his research, for which he received his doctorate, AD reports.

Kruisbergen studied 102 cases between 1995 and 2015 in which the Public Prosecutor pulled out all the stops to get back criminally obtained money. In these cases the Prosecutors demanded 62 million euros back from criminals. Courts eventually ordered these criminals to pay 27.5 million euros. Of that amount, only 11.3 million euros ended up in the State accounts by last year. "Criminals prove to be very bad payers", Kruisbergen said, according to the newspaper.

According to him, there are two reasons for the bad payment record - either the criminals can not pay the money, or they won't pay the money. "Some of those convicted will not pay. Clever criminals know very well how to keep their money out of sight of the government. They hide their assets, partly abroad, and the authorities don't succeed in finding all of the assets." Others simply can't afford to pay. "In their rulings courts do not always take into account the 'costs' of the criminals." Kruisbergen said, referring to legal expenses and the like. "The money is simply gone."

Another explanation for the low amount collected, is that judges sometimes give discounts because the case took too long. An average case involving seizing criminal assets takes between four and eight years, according to the Public Prosecutor. As an example, Kruisbergen cites a case in which the Prosecutor demanded 1.9 million euros. On appeal the court ruled that the criminal had to pay 965 thousand euros. Five years after the ruling, only 52 thousand euros was paid.

The Public Prosecutor agrees with Kruisbergen's findings, spokesperson Marieke van der Molen said to AD. According to her, the Public Prosecutor has been putting extra effort into collecting criminally obtained money since 2011. In that year the Prosecutor collected 45 million euros. In 2015 that amount The Prosecutor works with accountants and financial tracing agencies to collect criminal money. Over the past years, FIOD detectives also increasingly worked with the police.