Preventing fraud and tackling it when it happens is an important issue for the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. Any kind of fraud – such as fraudulently obtaining government funding in the form of grants, tax breaks, guarantees or assignments – is unacceptable.
Fraud undermines confidence in the government and the organisations it has appointed to oversee funding or compliance with environmental and other legislation and regulations. In addition, failure to respond adequately to fraud opens the door to new cases. On 1 June 2003, the Public Administration (Probity in Decision-making) Act (BIBOB) came into force. The act underlines how important government and parliament consider tackling illegal trade. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency uses this fraud protocol to inform you on the policy it pursues in combating fraud.
When there are signs of fraud
When irregularities are seen, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency will investigate. When it involves a grant, the investigation is both on an administrative and criminal law level. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency tackles irregularities on behalf of the Minister van Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, the Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, the Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment or other administrative authorities (processing the application, assessment through decision-making, appeals, as well as management through adoption). If we learn that an applicant does not do what is stated in the application, this can have consequences for the decision to provide a grant or for the size of the grant. The grant can be lowered or withdrawn. That means that instalments already paid can be reclaimed. Irregularities may come to light even when the grant sum has been set and paid. It can also be reclaimed in that case.
If fraud is suspected, action will be taken. It will be reported so it can be investigated and sent for criminal prosecution. If needed, decisions issued and inappropriate payments will be reversed. In programmes governed by private law, in which projects are put out to tender, we will proceed as described above. The same applies to the implementation of environmental legislation and regulations. In cases where fraud had been perpetrated against another administrative authority, we will consider ourselves bound as a government agency to report this to the appropriate regulatory body.
Furthermore, the Public Administration (Probity in Decision-making) Act (BIBOB) offers administrative authorities modalities to refuse or withdraw permits and grants and to refuse to grant government contracts, or to withdraw them, when any association with punishable behaviour on the part of private parties is likely or when the requirement that market parties/contractors be reliable is compromised.
What does the Netherlands Enterprise Agency mean by fraud?
Fraud comes in many shapes and sizes, but it is always comes down to the same thing: people (or organisations) appropriate money or assets to which they have no right and, in doing so, undermine the rights of others. They do this by not carrying out projects while reporting that they have done the work or by claiming expenses that they did not incur. When they do this, they harm the government and interfere with others' entitlements.
The Dutch Criminal Code does not define the term fraud, but it centres on matters that we usually call fraud. Think of document forgery, swindling, deceit, cheating the government as creditor or entitled party, corruption, theft and/or embezzlement.
Reporting putative fraud
When you suspect a case of fraud, you can use the following form to report this to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. Try to make your report as specific as possible. You can also report fraud anonymously. You can simply omit your contact information.