Security service IT worker says he stole computers because of tax office scandal
A former employee of the General Intelligence and Security Service of the Netherlands (AIVD) confessed that he stole dozens of computers from his former employer. He said this was because family members of his had been victimized by the Dutch tax service’s childcare benefits scandal. During the trial in Zwolle on Tuesday, prosecutors recommended a sentence of 240 hours of community service and an eight-months suspended prison sentence.
The IT worker’s attorney, and the lawyer representing his co-defendant, tried to prevent the trial from being heard publicly, claiming state security was at stake. The court overruled the objection, saying no state secrets were at risk of being revealed, as the case strictly concerns the theft of 102 computers and 67 display screens, and how the goods were handled by the second suspect. The computers did not contain any state secrets, according to previous inquiries with the AIVD.
With old-fashioned detective work, the authorities tracked down a leak within the AIVD. A private individual had brought a computer to the manufacturer, Dell, for repair, but it was registered as the property of the security service. Through a series of intermediaries, the criminal investigation department focused on a 42-year-old IT employee named Victor G. He was working for the AIVD at the time.
His family is one of the many victims in the childcare benefits scandal, where victims lost benefits they were due when they were falsely labeled as frauds by an internal algorithm that was used with limited oversight. Many of the victims were targeted on the basis of their background, including whether they are dual citizens. Once labeled as frauds, victims were also often ordered to pay back many thousands of euros in a lump sum, driving them into financial distress.
It was ultimately reason for G. to get his hands on dozens of security service computers. "As a civil servant, I had to jump through a hoop only to be screwed by the same government on the other," he said at the hearing.
Those computers then wound up sold via 57-year-old merchant Herman P. He is suspected of fencing stolen goods. P. had a specialist company in Amsterdam examine some of the computers that G. offered. There was nothing strange about that, he said. The man has previously been convicted of handling stolen goods. The public prosecutor demanded he serve fourteen months in prison, with six of them conditionally suspended.
G. lost his job because of this case and made an arrangement with the AIVD to repay the service. The number of computers and screens that he said he took is lower than the numbers mentioned by the OM, he stated. The fact that computers could be stolen from the security service so easily also raised questions. "The other goods have apparently been lost at the AIVD and the administration was not in order there," said G.
The court will issue a ruling on January 24.
Reporting by ANP