Published On: Tue, Dec 21st, 2021

TBO-budget almost doubles for next three years

PHIIPSBURG — Politicians with criminal intentions better fasten their seatbelts because outgoing State Secretary Knops has almost doubled the funding for TBO, the Team Bestrijding Ondermijning (the anti-corruption taskforce) until 2025 to €25 million ($28.3 million) per year. This appears from a letter Knops sent to the Second Chamber on December 16 about the results of the TBO.

Between 2016 and 2021, the TBO received annual funding of €12 million for a total over that period of €72 million ($81.4 million).

Knops mentions the investigation into large-scale fraud at the port in St. Maarten as one of the results of the TBO-efforts. The letter does not mention it, but the investigation against, and the subsequent trial and conviction of parliamentarian Claudius Buncamper is also the work of the anti-corruption taskforce. The court ruling against Buncamper, who is facing three years in prison, could come as early as December 23.

Furthermore, the TBO investigated illegal transaction-offices in St. Maarten. These places were considered as potential money laundering vehicles for criminal proceeds. This investigation did not result in a court case but according to Knops’ letter, in “a criminal settlement with these offices.”

From 2022 the TBO-approach will be upgraded from project-based to “structurally sustainable.”

Additional funding can increase to €13 million per year in 2025. This money comes on top of the already secured annual contribution of €12 million.

With this funding, the organizations will be able to hire additional capacity for the investigations into undermining criminality.

Knops’ letter makes clear that the TBO does not exclusively look at corruption. There is also a focus on serious forms pf tax fraud, embezzlement of public funds, forgery of documents and money laundering.

Furthermore the TBO will focus on cooperation for a preventive administrative approach on top of the criminal investigations.