Suspected Hague aldermen step down temporarily; deny corruption

The Hague aldermen Richard de Mos and Rachid Guernaoui are stepping down temporarily due to the corruption investigation going on against them. They do so at the request of mayor Pauline Krikke of The Hague. The two aldermen deny any form of corruption. 

"We have always acted in good faith and therefore look forward to the results of the investigation with confidence. We do not recognize ourselves in the accusations, but do not want to frustrate this investigation by making further announcements", De Mos and Guernaoui said in a statement released by their faction Groep De Mos/Hart voor Den Haag.

Mayor Krikke asked the two to step down on Tuesday afternoon. "In this country you are innocent until proven otherwise", she said in a statement, NOS reports. "But the Public Prosecutor's suspicions are so serious that the [office of mayor and aldermen] believes that good governance of the city is impeded if people against whom the suspicions are directed can perform duties on behalf of the city administration."

Mos and Guernaoui are suspected of official corruption, bribery, and violation of official confidentiality. The Public Prosecutor thinks they accepted bribes for issuing permits. According to NOS, this involved night-trading permits for hospitality entrepreneurs. 

De Mos is alderman of Economy, Sport and Outdoor Space, and Guernaoui is alderman for Finance, Integration and Districts. Their workplaces in the city hall and their homes were searched on Tuesday. They were also questioned on Tuesday afternoon. A city councilor for Groep De Mos is also suspected of involvement in corruption.

Rijksrecherche officers also searched the offices of a number of civil servants and the home addresses of three Hague entrepreneurs. Written documents and computer files were seized. A firearm and ammunition was found at the home of one of the suspected entrepreneurs. The entrepreneur was questioned and released, according to NOS. 

Arjen Dubbelaar, leader of Hart voor Den Haag, called the allegations against Mos and Guernaoui "character assassination" in a statement. "They are fighting for a better city and for serving the interests of our tens of thousands of voters. And yes, that certainly includes fighting for the interests of entrepreneurs - the mainstay that drives our city. The issuance of night permits and a vibrant hospitality industry were among the spearheads during the election campaign of March 2018. We are also proud to have gotten it into the coalition agreement and our aldermen are working on the implementation."