Bribing officials has become a business model in criminal world, authorities warn
Criminal intermediaries who bribe civil servants for information to sell to criminal organizations are an increasingly common phenomenon in the Netherlands. “Corrupting civil servants has become a business model,” general director Arthur van Baaren of the Rijksrecherche, the organization that handles internal investigations at government services, told NRC.
Government institutions are often still too naive, and employees are hardly aware that criminals are very interested in the information they have access to, Van Baaren said. Personal data like names, addresses, license plates, passports, or driver’s license numbers are a goldmine for criminal organizations.
According to Van Baaren, in the past, criminal intermediaries often approached civil servants they knew in the past, for example, through school or their neighborhood. But now, intermediaries deliberately go looking for officials they can corrupt. “They then sell the information they gather in this way to one or more criminal organizations,” Van Baaren said. “That shows how important certain information is for criminals and that they will pay a lot for it.”
The number of Rijksrecherche investigations into corruption and leaked information has remained relatively stable for years. The Rijksrecherche investigated 49 such cases last year. “But apart from the numbers, I’m very concerned about these types of cases.”
As an example, Van Baaren mentioned a former official in The Hague who was convicted last year for forging passports for criminals, including Ridouan Taghi and Naoufal F. She was contacted by one of these criminal intermediaries “who abused her vulnerable personal situation,” according to Van Baaren. “Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. We see this often,” he said.
The Rijksrecherche would like more controls and checks on civil servants. For example, the service wants to require certification for civil servants who work with passports. According to Van Baaren, a certificate of good conduct is not always sufficient.