€16 billion laundered in Netherlands each year: report

Every year around 16 billion euros is laundered in the Netherlands, 90 percent of which come from drug trafficking and fraud, researchers at Utrecht University found in a study commissioned by the the scientific research and documentation center WODC. Fraud is increasing and the under- and upper world are becoming increasingly intertwined, the researchers warned in Trouw.

The researchers came to the figure of 16 billion euros laundered by combining figures on the scale of crime and money laundering flows between countries with other data. These figures are from 2014, because that is the latest figures that are known, but the researchers believe that little has changed in the years since. 

Money laundering - the process of spending criminally earned money - undermines the economy, project leader professor Brigitte Unger said to the newspaper. "Corruption is on the rise. You get a different way of living together, because the upper- and underworld are becoming entangled", Unger said. 

The last time an assessment of money laundering was made was in 2004. Then researchers estimated that 18.5 billion euros was laundered in the Netherlands that year. But as more figures are now known, the estimate for 2014 was lowered to 13 billion euros.

The researchers emphasize that both 2004 and 2014's figures are estimates with a margin of error. It is therefore not exactly clear whether money laundering is increasing or decreasing. "The scale remained relatively unchanged over the past 10 years, roughly 2.5 percent of the gross domestic product", Unger said to the newspaper. 

This study will be used as a starting point for improving the Netherlands' anti-money laundering policy.