European Parliament joins fight against organised crime and corruption

11 July 2012

European Parliament joins fight against organised crime and corruption

SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong was today named one of the vice-chairs of the special committee on organised crime and corruption. ‘The work is starting not a day too soon,’ says De Jong. ‘Corruption costs an annual €120 billion, affects the poor more than anyone else, and is making the economic crisis worse. Fraud in financial institutions such as that which came to light less week at LIBOR, where there was also the alleged complicity of central banks, shows that financial criminality in the broad sense is becoming rampant. Because this sort of criminality is almost always transfrontier in nature, an approach based on European cooperation is clearly required. We will, via the special committee, be making proposals to ensure that criminals of this ilk, including fraudulent bankers, end up behind bars. They caused the crisis, but instead of having to atone for this, they continue to enjoy enormous salaries and bonuses.’

Dennis de JongThe special committee will investigate all aspects of corruption and organised crime, in state authorities, business and the financial sector. ‘The image that people have of corruption involves, for example, the bribing of police officers to waive fines for traffic violations, an image that is at the very least incomplete,’ De Jong points out. ‘Often corruption is much more subtle and better hidden and bribery is merely the tip of the iceberg. A great deal of money is lost in Europe as a result of forms of white collar crime such as tax fraud and fraud involving various types of permit. This parliamentary committee must succeed in bringing to light the networks and mechanisms for concealment on which corruption rests, as well as helping ensure that international criminality is punished more effectively.’

De Jong’s central concern as a member of the special committee will be to tackle corrupt firms which are often prosecuted in a single member state, or even outside the EU, yet remain unmolested in the country in which they are established. ‘As a result of this, the Netherlands is extremely attractive to multinationals seeking to avoid prosecution for bribery abroad,’ warns De Jong. ‘In the Netherlands too low a priority is accorded to prosecuting corporations for bribery in foreign countries, despite the existence of international treaties which make it clear that it is our duty to do so. Because, for example, the United Kingdom is much more assiduous in pursuing corrupt firms, corporations registered in the Netherlands are guilty of gaining an unfair competitive advantage.’ In 2011 De Jong, together with other Euro-MPs, presented an action plan containing concrete recommendations to tackle corruption, including increased transparency at EU institutions and in relation to EU spending, support for investigative journalists, making the general public aware of the problem, protecting whistle-blowers, and the suspension of the right of firms convicted of corrupt practices from participating in European public tendering procedures.

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