Bill for Groningen gas field quakes passes €1 billion mark

Dutch companies ‘funding terrorism through VAT fraud’

The bill for dealing with the consequences of earthquakes linked to gas production in Groningen has passed the €1 billion mark, latest figures show. The Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM), which is responsible for gas extraction in the northern province, has spent €1.089 billion on repairs, strengthening buildings, prevention and research, according to a quarterly report by the national co-ordinator for Groningen. Just over half the total – €520 million – was taken up by handling nearly 75,000 claims for damage caused by earth tremors. The figure is more than double the estimate of €250m that formed the basis of a deal with the provincial government to compensate those affected. A further €316 million has been allocated to safety and preventive measures, including supporting buildings at risk of damage, while €160 million has gone on mitigating plans such as subsidising solar panels or buying out homeowners who are unable to sell their properties. Tens of thousands of homes in Groningen have had to be shored up as a result of increased earthquake activity caused by decades of gas extraction. The government has agreed to limit production to 27 billion cubic metres this year following a court ruling. The NAM has bought out 61 homes in the province, 12 of which have been demolished. So far only one has been sold on.  More >

International school shut due to hate mail

Dutch companies ‘funding terrorism through VAT fraud’ Pupils in Groningen province have been sent home after a threatening email was sent to an international school, police have confirmed. The International School Groningen, in Haren and the neighbouring Maartenscollege were closed on the advice of police before classes began. The contents of the relevant message have not been disclosed. Students on their way to school were sent messages telling them the school would not reopen on Monday. Police are investigating the incident but would not say how long their enquiries will take. Op internationale school in #Haren is een bedreiging binnen gekomen via e-mail. De politie doet onderzoek en leerlingen zijn geïnformeerd. — Politie Groningen (@polgroningen) October 24, 2016   More >

Dutch VAT fraud 'funding terrorism'

Dutch companies ‘funding terrorism through VAT fraud’ Terrorist organisations are being funded by Dutch-based companies through VAT fraud, TV documentary series Zembla has claimed. The programme said it had obtained a list of around 40 individuals and companies in the Netherlands who are being investigated by German prosecutors for tax evasion. The international firms are said to have traded in CO2 emissions certificates without paying VAT in several European countries. The Dutch authorities blocked CO2 fraud in 2009, but that had the side effect of enabling companies based elsewhere to launder billions of euros by routing their deals through the Netherlands. German and Italian prosecutors said there were indications that some of the money had been passed on to terrorist organisations, but gave no specific details. Documents found in a cave in Pakistan that Osama bin Laden used as a hideout led investigators to a criminal network based in Italy that stole €1 billion through VAT fraud on CO2 certificates. Junior finance minister Eric Wiebes told Parliament earlier that he could not rule out the possibility that money raised through VAT fraud was being used to fund terrorism. He said the issue was worrying but added he did not 'have a list' of suspects.  More >

Public broadcaster pays to clone pet

Dutch public broadcaster pays to clone pet dog for new show A Dutch public broadcaster is claiming it had a pet dog cloned in South Korea for a new show. It is illegal to clone animals in the Netherlands, but not to import a cloned pet from abroad. The dog which was cloned was a 12-year-old bulldog called Joep, which lived in Rotterdam. Joep has since died, but the owner is extremely happy with the clone, named Pipo, according to the Telegraaf. ‘It is not just his appearance, which is almost identical,’ the owners told the paper. ‘We are surprised on a daily basis how much his behaviour and character matches with our old dog. It is unbelievable.’ Joep’s owners had responded to an appeal by BNN which was looking for people who wanted to have their pet cloned and were willing to send a tissue sample to the company, named by the Telegraaf as Sooam Biotech. Sooam is said to be the leading laboratory in the world for dog cloning and has produced more than 700 dogs for commercial customers. The Telegraaf says it cost the broadcaster €50,000 to have the dog cloned. Opposition MPs have criticized the idea of cloning animals to order and animal welfare groups point out that hundreds of dogs in animal shelters could do with a new owner. The programme, Klonen: Wens of Waanzin?, is part of a series about cloning around the world and will be broadcast on Friday.  More >

€2 PvdA membership is a 'sales trick'

€2 PvdA leadership vote membership is a ‘sales trick’ The PvdA's much hyped €2 bargain membership to allow 'anyone' to have a vote in the party's forthcoming leadership election is not a real deal, the Telegraaf reported on Monday. In order to check that people don't vote multiple times, voters will have to join the PvdA for a full year, and that will cost them €24, the paper said. People wanting to take part in the leadership vote can either pay their membership in one go, or 12 installments of €2. Leadership candidate Jacques Monasch, who had been hoping to pick up a lot of votes from new members, says the €2 deal has all the appearance of a sales trick. He has asked party leader Hans Spekman for an explanation. 'People are going to feel conned by this,' Monasch told website 'An open leadership contest would have given the PvdA fresh momentum.'   More >