Junior minister denies misleading parliament over drugs dealer payment

Albert Heijn lets customers scan and pay for shopping by smartphone app

Junior justice minister Fred Teeven has denied parliament was wrongly informed about a deal he struck with a convicted drugs dealer 15 years ago while a public prosecutor. On Wednesday, television current affairs show Nieuwsuur reported that Teeven agreed to pay back 4.7 million guilders to Cees H, and that he had not been given official permission to do so.  Teeven has always claimed the payment was no more than two million guilders. On Thursday Teeven refused to go into the difference in figures and referred again to a statement by justice minister Ivo Opstelten on Wednesay who also denied misleading parliament. [banner] Teeven said that Opstelten is politically responsible for the actions of justice ministry civil servants, as he was at the time. ‘I cannot tell you what happened within the public prosecution department,’ he said. ‘It would not be appropriate to do so.’ Teeven also repeated that he remembered making the deal but that the supporting facts are no longer available. Sources Nieuwsuur bases its claims on ‘multiple’ documents from the public prosecution department and other sources. The deal, which was kept secret from the tax authorities, hit the headlines in March 2014. The public prosecution department had sequestered around five million guilders in assets from drugs lord H – including property and jewellery. However, the department was unable to prove the assets had been obtained illegally and so most of the money was returned to H. Teeven agreed to the deal in ‘complete confidentiality’ so that ‘national and/or international tax services and fiscal authorities’ were not informed, Nieuwsuur said. The money was paid back to H via Luxemburg bank accounts, effectively laundering the money. H’s current lawyer Jan-Hein Kuijper told the Pauw chat show later on Wednesday evening that he is in possession of the missing receipt. ‘I can confirm that the amount mentioned in Nieuwsuur is correct,’ Kuijpers said. However, he will not go public with the receipt because his client does not want him to, he said.  More >

Dutch economy continues to grow

Albert Heijn lets customers scan and pay for shopping by smartphone app The government’s macro-economic forecasting agency CPB says the Dutch economy will grow 1.7% this year and 1.8% in 2016. The improved growth figures are due to the fall in the price of the euro and lower oil prices, the organisation said in an update. This year's budget deficit will be 1.8%, well below the 3% limit under eurozone rules, and will fall again to 1.2% in 2016. However, unemployment will remain an issue and will not drop as much as forecast earlier. The jobless rate, currently around 8.1% according to the official national definition, will be around 7.9% next year, the CPB said. [banner] Finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said the new forecasts show that government policy is starting to pay off. Opposition party calls for further spending cuts are 'unnecessary and pointless' because they would brake growth, the minister said.  More >

Amsterdam bee population is booming

Amsterdam bee population is booming Bee populations may be in trouble elsewhere but in Amsterdam there are now 61 different bee species, up from 51 in 2000, according to new research. The most common bee in the city is the common furrow (Lasioglossum calceatum) while the hairy-footed flower bee, which was very rare in 2000, now lives in abundance in the city's Vondel park, the research shows. The research was commissioned by the city council. Bee expert and researcher told the Parool the city council should be extremely pleased the city has such committed people managing its green spaces. 'The city can thank their expertise for the increase,' he said. Ten years ago the city council took a new, environmentally-friendly approach to its green areas and roadside verges. It no longer uses pesticides and wild flowers have been sown in many places. Specific bee friendly projects have also been set up. [banner]  More >

Lelystad airport expansion out to tender

Lelystad airport expansion out to tender, before final green light The government still has to give the green light for the expansion of Lelystad airport, but contracts for the first phase have already been put out to tender, the Financieele Dagblad says on Thursday. The closing date for offers to develop and maintain the runway, access roads and car park closed on February 16, economic affairs ministry documents show. The first phase is expected to cost around €58m, the FD says. Junior infrastructure minister Wilma Mansveld is expected to take a final decision on the expansion plans in April. Lelystad Airport is owned by the Schiphol group and has been earmarked as a new base for charter flights. Schiphol itself wants to concentrate on more lucrative business and transit passengers. [banner]  More >

Holleeder guilty of tv reporter threats

Albert Heijn lets customers scan and pay for shopping by smartphone app Dutch underworld figure Willem Holleeder has been jailed for 46 days for threatening Dutch television crime reporter Peter R de Vries. However, judges in Haarlem found him not guilty of blackmailing a former chief of motorbike gang Hells Angels. Holleeder, who was jailed in the 1980s for kidnapping beer magnate Freddie Heineken, will also have to spend a further 90 days in jail for breaking the terms of his early release from prison by threatening De Vries. [banner] He was released in 2012 after serving five years for blackmailing three property tycoons. The public prosecution department had called for a 1.5 year jail term for the threats and blackmail, plus three years for breaking his early release provisions. Telegraaf reporter Johan van den Heuvel said although Holleeder has quite a reputation, the court has stuck to the facts in this case. 'You cannot be sentenced on the basis of your reputation,' he said. Holleeder was arrested almost three months ago in connection with yet another case. That investigation centres on the murder of underworld figures Kees Houtman and Thomas van der Bijl in 2005 and 2006. That trial is not expected to begin before the autumn.  More >