In December 2012, I wrote about the Dutch VVD alderman of Roermond and ex-senator Jos van Rey (VVD is Dutch liberal-conservative party), who had gotten into serious trouble. In those days,the National Criminal Investigation Department had executed a raid on his house and that of his son, as well as on the house of local real estate tycoon Piet van Pol, acquiring their whole paper administration and all computer files.
Initially, Van Rey was suspected by the state prosecution of corruption during his stints as a local government official and of being bribed by Van Pol with money and an array of presents in kind. In spite of these suspicions of the state prosecution against Van Rey, he was backed up by many VVD-members in his province Limburg, who wanted him to run for the Roermond city council again and considered the accusations against Van Rey to be a disgrace.
Last Saturday, however, the national Dutch newspaper Telegraaf printed an additional article on this case. It stated that Van Rey has been placed under a heavier suspicion by the state prosecution. Next to the earlier charges, he is also suspected of money laundering. Here are the pertinent snips from the Telegraaf.
The former alderman of Roermond Jos van Rey (VVD) is not only suspected of corruption, but also of money laundering.
This became clear from a verdict by the Court of Law in Rotterdam in a private lawsuit, which had been filed by the son of Van Rey, according to local newspaper De Limburger. According to this verdict, also other non-disclosed persons have been under suspicion of money laundering.
In a reaction this Saturday, Van Rey’s sollicitor Gitte Stevens mentioned that she had been informed about this verdict, in which the phrase ‘money laundering’ had been used. However, she does not consider the accusations to be rock-solid at the moment. “It is insulting that the state prosecution thinks it has the monopoly on truth-finding”, according to Stevens. “As long as I am not informed about a formal accusation by the state, it is impossible to work on my defence strategy”.
Van Rey’s sollicitor Gitte Stevens is definitely right. Especially in this case, there is a very high-profile, political suspect, who runs an above-average risk of being “trialed by media”.
In such cases, the state prosecution should be as transparant as possible towards the defence, in order to let it develop its defence strategy, based on a ‘level playing field’ for information. Everybody has a right for a fair trial and nobody should be convicted by the media alone.
Nevertheless, these are very serious accusations for a formerly local and central official, who should be above any suspicion in order to do his job properly. Therefore I will follow the remainder of this case very closely.