Published On: Wed, Sep 11th, 2013

Fraud investigation into EU subsidies for the Antilles

StolteWILLEMSTAD – The European Commission has blocked funding of various development projects for the islands of the former Netherlands Antilles for almost a year now. This is following a possible fraud with funds from the European Development Fund (EDF).

OLAF, the European Anti-Fraud Office, is carrying out an investigation into this fraud case since last year. The preliminary findings indicate that there were "possible irregularities in the financial management of funds by SONA", the Development Foundation Netherlands Antilles. The foundation executes development programs for Europe and the Netherlands.

The Commission and the Dutch Ministry of the Interior have already stated on January 7 of this year that pending the investigation no new projects will be funded. In his letter to the Dutch Second Chamber in Parliament two weeks ago, about the legality of SONA’s spending, Minister Plasterk (Interior) did not mention about the blockade of funds and the investigation.

More pressure on High Representative Stolte

This news brings more pressure on Wilbert Stolte, as representative of Minister Plasterk on the BES islands.

He was from 2008 to 2011 as treasurer of SONA responsible for the financial management of the foundation. Stolte’s position was already under pressure for his part in the administrative problems on Bonaire.

The project which is being investigated by OLAF is the funding of 34 million for the sewage treatment on Bonaire. It was contracted in 2010 by SONA. The assignment went to MNO Vervat International, formerly Koop Tjuchem.

SONA: no suspicions

In response SONA says that there are no suspicions against the foundation. OLAF does not confirm this. SONA is considering legal action against the Commission, a spokesman said:

"If the European Commission would stick to this far-reaching plan, then the islands would lose about 23 million euro in a variety of projects."

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