Rabobank allegedly financed entrepreneurs arrested for face mask scam
Rabobank was "an important support" for entrepreneur Sywert van Lienden during the negotiations of his controversial mask deal with the government, according to reporting by Follow The Money (FTM). Emails and documentation show top banker Barbara Baarsma helped mediate the deal, FTM reports. Rabobank has denied these accusations.
Baarsma, then director of the bank's Amsterdam branch, was copied on an email from Van Lienden to the Ministry of Health about the mask deal, according to FTM. The bank states that Baarsma was involved "exclusively as a banker" at the start of the deal, but did not explain exactly what it meant by this.
Baarsma and five other bankers were also involved in reserving a loan of 115 million euros to finance the mask deal, according to FTM. "We are also very much looking forward to working on this; we like to make it a success!" wrote one of the bankers in an April 13, 2020 email to Baarsma.
The information is included in the book "Sywerts Miljoenen," written by two FTM journalists, which will be released on March 24. The bank says it does not yet know the contents of the book.
"Based on the relationship of trust with its (potential) customers, Rabobank does not share data with the media,” the bank said in response. “Whatever the situation or background, regardless of its effect. We do not think it shows integrity, so we choose not to do it.”
Van Lienden allegedly made a 30 million euro profit from his face mask sales, despite claiming the operation was not for profit. He had stocked up on protective gear early in the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic and was therefore able to strike a deal with the Ministry of Health to deliver face masks.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times