Big spike in money laundering cases handled by NL courts: report

The number of money laundering cases that ended up in court last year increased by a quarter to 1,499 last year. Sentences were imposed in 997 of those cases, an increase of 22 percent compared to 2018, BNR reports based on figures from the Council of Judiciary.

The Public Prosecution Service attributes the big increase to extra attention paid to money laundering. "A great deal has been invested in recent years on the subject of money laundering and the taking of criminal money, which has resulted in an increase in the number of investigations that are taken to court," a spokesperson said to the broadcaster.

Experts on the subject agree that increased attention played a role in the increase in cases, but add that a change in money laundering legislation that made proving the crime considerably easier also played a role.

"At first there was money laundering only if a concealing act had taken place," fraud and money laundering expert Cees Schaap explained to the broadcaster. Now a burglar can be charged for laundering his loot even if he is caught shortly after the burglary. "He does not need to have hidden the money, he had to do that previously to fall under the heading of money laundering."

And that can result in the figures giving a distorted picture, money laundering expert and director of the Offshore Knowledge Center Jan van Koningsveld added. "Suddenly many more cases fall under the heading of money laundering. So it doesn't necessarily mean that we have become much better at detecting money laundering," he said to BNR.