Government agencies such as the police, but also the municipality and the Tax and Customs Administration will check more intensively for ‘wrong’ housing brokers. Seventy police officers and another thirty FIOD investigators have given the first impetus to this this week. In an investigation into a 27-year-old ‘wrong’ housing broker, raids were carried out early yesterday at nine homes in Amsterdam, Diemen and Almere.
According to the police, the woman, who is seen by authorities as a facilitator, mediated via the internet in homes for tax evaders, illegal immigrants or other persons who for whatever reason want to stay under the radar. These are homes in the free sector in Amsterdam, Diemen and Almere with a monthly rent of about 1500 euros.
‘A number of homes were quite luxuriously furnished and that does not fit the income picture’
In one of the houses that were invaded, investigators found various (sometimes still packaged) luxury goods. ‘And we are really talking about expensive brands like Louis Vuitton. For people who live on benefits. A number of houses were also quite luxuriously furnished and that does not match the income picture that we have of these residents, ‘says public prosecutor Ursula Weitzel.
In addition to the 27-year-old woman, two other people were arrested on Tuesday. Two other persons are suspects, but are not detained. The main suspect came into the picture during an ongoing money laundering investigation. The police and the judiciary, together with the municipality, the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) and the Tax Authorities, started an investigation into the housing supply of this 27-year-old Amsterdam citizen.
‘After we have exchanged information with each other, a broader picture has emerged of this housing broker. This woman has mediated in housing for people who actually cannot afford it, who may want to carry out criminal activities or who want to stay under the radar of the municipality, police and judicial authorities. ‘
‘This woman has mediated in housing for people who cannot afford it or who want to stay under the radar’
As a result, this housing broker became the subject of research by the Regional Information and Expertise Center (RIEC), a collective name of agencies that join forces (read: exchange information and do not try to avoid each other) to combat undermining. In this specific investigation, for example, the police and the judiciary worked closely with the tax authorities.
The main suspect would have been helped in her business by a 34-year-old Amsterdammer. This partner is alleged to have falsified employer’s statements and pay slips for the tenants of the buildings through his company. At nine properties that were examined, those who were registered turned out not to have the correct papers. Seventy police officers and another thirty FIOD investigators kicked in the front door at those places early Tuesday morning.
During the searches, agents found, among other things, records that, according to the authorities, show that tax is being evaded. Several tens of thousands of euros in cash, a converted alarm pistol and presumably narcotics were also found. In addition, counterfeit money worth 1200 euros was found in the home of one of the suspects.
False claims for corona benefits
In another home, investigators came across documents showing false claims for corona benefits. This concerns the Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Employment (NOW), whereby employers can receive part of their wage costs reimbursed by the government.
In one of the houses that were invaded, investigators found three adults and two children residing illegally in the Netherlands. They have been handed over to the Aliens Police. According to the authorities, they also stayed in a rental home with forged papers. ‘These are people who want to participate in our society, but want to stay under the radar. So they don’t want to stand out, because they are illegal in the Netherlands or are involved in criminal cases, ‘says public prosecutor Katelijne den Hartog.
According to the prosecution, the criminal investigation is a textbook example of ‘subversion’, a notion that seems to apply to every form of crime today. ‘We think it is important that the main suspect is tackled, because she fulfills a facilitating role for people who are actually not eligible for these homes at all, while others are looking for it.’
‘This research will be used to see how someone could have done this so easily’
And that is a thorn in the side of the authorities. Especially because the houses are now being withdrawn from hardworking Amsterdammers. By bundling our information, we hope to gain a deeper insight into the actions of these suspects at the intersection of the upper world and the underworld, who undermine society. We try to create barriers to prevent that, ‘says Jord Koppejan of the RIEC.
Den Hartog points out that there are more of these wrong ‘service providers’ active in the city. According to her, the RIEC will focus on this in the coming period. ‘So that’s something that needs attention. This research will also be used to see how someone could have done this so easily. ‘