Bribery accusations in controversial sale of NS land

The Public Prosecutor is investigating a controversial sale of NS land to a real estate entrepreneur in 2014. Two people involved are suspected of non-official bribery around the deal, a spokesperson for the Public Prosecutor said to newspaper AD. The investigation is not focused on NS or ProRail, according to the newspaper.

In 2010 nd 2014 NS sold large quantities of land along the rails to two different real estate traders. They did not have to pay anything for the land and even received millions of euros, according to AD. The land was also offered to ProRail, but the rail manager declined. It later turned out that ProRail needed a lot of that ground to expand the tracks and for other activities. The company therefore had to buy it back from the real estate traders. ProRail paid over 18 million euros to the RailSide company in 2017 to buy back land sold in the first deal, and 15 million to Bakkhe Vastgoed last year, according to AD.

The transaction in which land was sold to Bakkhe Vastgoed is now under investigation by the Public Prosecutor. Parties involved in that transaction suspect that Bakkhe Vastgoed had inside information when bidding for the ground. RailSide, which tried to buy this land too but failed, thinks that a former shareholder passed on knowledge about RailSide's bid to Bakkhe Vastgoed, who used that information to win the tender. 

The owner of Bakhe Vastgoed refused to respond to AD's questions on the matter, according to the newspaper. The Prosecutor did not want to say whether the owner is one of the two suspects in this case. 

Last week ProRail CEO Pier Eringa announced that he will investigate what went wrong in these two land deals. He spoke of "fiddling" by ProRail, NS and the Ministry, that cost his company tens of millions of euros.

NS already did an internal investigation after signals of inside information in these deals. No irregularities were found, a spokesperson said to AD. But NS refused to publish the investigation. The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, asked for an explanation.