Dutch prosecutor seized 402 million from criminals last year

Arrest (Photo: Politie) policeArrest (Photo: Politie)

In 2016 the Public Prosecutor seized a record amount of 402,081,905 euros in money and assets from criminals in the Netherlands, almost triple the 144 million euros seized in 2015, the Prosecutor announced on Thursday.

The massive increase can largely be attributed to a settlement between the Prosecutor and telecom company Vimpelcom on bribery charges. The company paid a 268 million euro fine to the Netherlands. A settlement on a fraud case against car importer Pon also brought in a couple of million. But amounts and assets seized in smaller cases also made a sizable contribution to the total amount, chief prosecutor Marianne Bloos said to broadcaster NOS. 

An increasingly successful form of taking money from criminals over the past years is the hunt on money mules. They are regularly caught with a few hundred thousand euros in their pockets. That money is seized immediately. And instead of dragging the mules to court, the Prosecutor fines them. Which means more money for the treasury which is not dependent on a lawsuit. 

Last week a study revealed that the Public Prosecutor only manages to take a small percentage of the money demanded from criminals. This is because the courts don't always agree with taking the full amount and because criminals are bad payers - it takes a long time to actually get the money into the treasury. According to the Public Prosecutor, taking money from criminals is indeed a long process. A confiscation case can last between four and eight years. The Prosecutor wants to speed up this process by seizing money and assets at the same time as the lawsuit, not only afterwards. 

Although the Prosecutor manages to seize more money every year, it is still only a fraction of the criminal money actually in circulation, NOS reports. Regional mayors estimate that each year more than 9 billion euros of criminal money circulates in the Netherlands. That means that the Prosecutor only seizes a small percentage of the total amount. 

"You do not find all the crime, which means that you can not take all the criminal money", Prosecutor Bloos said to the broadcaster. ""So it is especially important that you take assets in every criminal case that you do handle."

Last year was not only a record year for seizing criminal assets. The Hit and Run Cargo team also found and confiscated a record amount of cocaine in the port of Rotterdam. Over 13 thousand kilos of cocaine was seized. Here too that amount is estimated to be only a fraction of the total amount of drugs in circulation.