New Cabinet members must publicly detail their financial holdings, D66 says
The D66 wants all Ministers and State Secretaries in the new Cabinet to publish their financial affairs before they are appointed. This demand follows the revelation that Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra owned shares in a letterbox firm in a tax haven before he was appointed Minister in 2017.
D66 parliamentarian Joost Sneller will submit his proposal to be included in the Cabinet formation talks between VVD, D66, CDA, and ChristenUnie, AD reports.
"We have to step up in the Netherlands when it comes to transparency," Sneller said to the newspaper. "If you are going to serve the Netherlands in the highest office on the executive side, you must make your interests visible. There is a risk if intended Ministers and Secretaries of State provide insight into their finances behind closed doors, as has been the case until now. It makes Ministers vulnerable during their term in office. And it makes democracy vulnerable because trust is damaged when there are incidents."
The current rule is that new Ministers meet with the Prime Minister and disclose what investments, shares, and interests they are distancing themselves from before taking office. The Prime Minister then informs parliament about it in a letter.
Hoekstra owned shares in the letterbox firm behind East African safari park project Asilia, the Pandora Papers revealed. The letterbox firm is based in the British Virgin Islands, a known tax haven. He sold off his shares before he took office as Finance Minister in 2017. In response to the Pandora Papers, Hoekstra said he did not know the firm was located in a tax haven, and he informed Prime Minister Mark Rutte about the investment. This raised questions with opposition parties, with the PvdA wondering why Hoekstra felt the need to notify the Prime Minister about the investment if he did not know that there was anything dodgy about it.
Other prominent Asilia shareholders include Tom de Swaan, chairman of the supervisory board at ABN Amro; Maarten Muller, supervisory director at Van Lanschot Kempen; and Alexandra Schaapveld, supervisory director at the French bank Société Générale.