Authorities too weak to fight money laundering: Report

The Netherlands' authorities do not have the capacity to deal with the large number of suspicious transactions that tax advisers, banks and other financial services are obliged to report to them, the Dutch association of tax advisers NOB and the register of tax advisers RB said to newspaper Trouw.

Banks, accountants and tax advisers repot suspicious transactions to financial intelligence unit FIU, which filters out the really suspicious transactions and pass these on the the Public Prosecution Service (OM) or the Tax Authority's investigative service FIOD. In 2018 around 60 thousand suspicious transactions were reported to the FIU, and 15 thousand of them were passed on to the OM and FIOD.

But according to the NOB and RB, only a fraction of those suspicious transactions were actually investigated due to under-staffing at the OM and FIOD. "That is frustrating to see. It currently comes too much from one side", spokesperson Wim Gohres said to the newspaper. 

Banks have raised these same concerns, according to Trouw. After multiple banks were fined for not doing enough in the fight against money laundering, they've hired hundreds of new employees to scan for suspicious transactions. "If you see that we as a sector now employ around 8,000 people who are working on this, while on the public side only a fraction of that number is working on this. Then something is wrong with the system," Rabobank CEO Wiebe Draijer said to FD last year. 

Both FIOD and OM could not tell Trouw how many of the reported transactions turned into concrete investigations. But both authorities stressed the importance of these reports. "All reports come in a database, so that we can better estimate which money flows really deserve further investigation," an OM spokesperson said to the newspaper.