Ruling party wants to check city councilors for money laundering

The VVD wants banks to check city council members for money laundering and signs of links to the criminal underworld, like the payment systems of national politicians are already monitored, VVD parliamentarian Roald van der Linde said to BNR.

Banks in the Netherlands already ask new customers whether they or a family member are politically active, due to the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Act. But the VVD wants banks to screen politicians even more intensively, local politicians in particular. "There is a whole industry at the back of the drugs problem where people try to launder money", Van der Linde said to the broadcaster.

Emile Kolthoff, professor of criminology at the Open University and lecturer on undermining crime at Avans University of Applied Sciences, does not think that banks monitoring politicians' bank accounts will be very effective. He thinks political parties themselves have to properly screen people before putting them on their election lists, he said to BNR. "These are things you can do yourself, for which you do not need a bank at all."

Money laundering is hard to detect, and people who launder money professionally won't do so through their own bank account, according to Kolthoff. "In recent years we only had two cases of money laundering by council members that came to light. That happened to be VVD council members, one in Roermond and on in Stichtse Vecht", he said to the broadcaster. And the money laundering was not traced through their bank accounts. "That is why we have to invest in financial investigators, a specialty that we have broken down over the past years."