Dutch political parties join forces in the media to address illegal gaming
THE HAGUE – The fight against illegal gambling and corruption in general in Curaçao and St. Maarten of Members of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) and André Bosman made the national news in the Netherlands on Tuesday.
Public radio news programme De Nieuws BV on Radio 1 and the TV news programme EenVandaag featured an item on the (illegal) gambling industry which is mainly located in Curaçao. Curaçao and St. Maarten were mentioned in relation to organised crime, corruption and the quality of governance. Both Members of Parliament (MPs) were interviewed.
According to Van Raak and Bosman, the gambling industry on the islands is engaged in illegal, criminal and money laundering activities; in Curaçao websites are operating that offer online gambling services abroad and the local governments are not exercising sufficient supervision.
The VVD and SP have joined up in the fight against (illegal) online gambling. Bosman and Van Raak expressed great concerns because they fear that the online gambling in Curaçao is used to launder large sums of money. “It concerns extremely large amounts, hundreds of millions of dollars, possibly even billions. On some websites amounts up to US $1 million can be placed as bets,” said Van Raak in the TV item on EenVandaag.
MP Van Raak has already submitted more than 100 written questions to Dutch Minister of Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk on (illegal) online gambling, the role of telecommunications company UTS where much of the online gambling industry is located and accountancy/consultancy firm KPMG which audits the books of UTS.
Van Raak explained in the interview with Radio 1 that “five to seven persons” were allowed by the Curaçao Government to issue “an endless number of sub-licenses” for the online gambling sector. “These are large international gambling sites that are easily used to launder money,” he said.
The EenVandaag TV item focused on Curaçao, but in the interview on Radio 1, Van Raak and Bosman also mentioned St. Maarten, which together with Curaçao were referred to as “small, vulnerable communities” where “politicians can easily get in contact with money” of criminal organisations. “Politicians are susceptible to the influence of these people,” said Bosman.
According to Bosman, the islands are wealthy enough to secure a decent development. However, many of the funds are not invested in the general wellbeing of the people and “ends up in the wrong pockets.”
Transparency and accountability in government and at the government-owned companies are of utmost importance, said Bosman. He said that the Parliaments of Curaçao and St. Maarten needed to play a bigger role in this. “They should ask the questions, demand clarity.” Bosman said he would surely bring up this matter during next week’s Inter-Parliamentary Consultation for the Kingdom IPKO, in The Hague.