Big Dutch banks, brewers and housing corporations have cannabis cafe interests

IT failure leaves Dutch police unable to issue automatic fines

The four biggest Dutch banks - Rabobank, ING, ABN Amro and the Volksbank (formerly SNS) - have lent cannabis cafe owners some €1.1bn using 170 coffee shops as security, the Financieele Dagblad said on Wednesday. The figures come from a major research project carried out by the FD and investigative journalism website Investico which looked at the connections between Dutch firms, entrepreneurs and the public sector, and the cannabis industry. The research also shows that brewers such as Heineken and AB InBev have also lent money to people active in the sector while 46 of the country's 570 coffee shops are located in property run by a housing cooperation. The findings are particularly significant given that earlier research suggests around 25% of coffee shops have links to organised crime, the paper said. No risk Criminologist Vyrille Fijnaut told the paper that the findings are not a great surprise. 'In terms of paying off a loan or paying rent, coffee shops are not a financial risk,' Fijnaut said. Twelve people on the Quote 500 rich list have investments in 19 coffee shops and even the tax office has accepted two coffee shops as security for a loan, the paper said. 'This shows the duplicity of Dutch drugs policy and Dutch society,' professor Pieter Tops told the paper. Market 'People will say the market is without morals and coffee shops are legal,' he said. 'But a lot of money is being invested in a world where it is known that there are connections with criminal organisations. People are investing - legally - in a world that is illegal and earning money.' Although coffee shops are licenced and the police turn a blind eye to the possession of small amounts of cannabis, how the drug gets to the coffee shop remains a controversial subject and growing the plant is still illegal. The FD estimates coffee shop turnover to total some €1bn a year. Licences In 2010, the government and Dutch banking association VNG was forced to intervene after coffee shop owners - who run local authority licenced businesses - complained they were finding it hard to get a bank. Nevertheless, the big banks told the FD that they are less willing or not at all willing to lend money to coffee shops. Housing corporations including Ymrere and De Key also told the paper they no longer rent property to be used as a cannabis cafe. Most - 86%- of the loans in the FD research come from prior to 2010, the paper said.  More >

KLM sues Schiphol over delays in May

IT failure leaves Dutch police unable to issue automatic fines Airline KLM has filed a damages claim against Schiphol airport for delays during the May school holiday weeks. The Dutch flag carrier would not comment on the amount of the claim but earlier said it would run into several million euros, the Telegraaf said on Wednesday. A KLM spokesman confirmed the damages claim on Tuesday evening after it was announced on a TV news programme. The spokesman said the airport authority was aware of the claim. Many passengers missed their flights because Schiphol was so busy in May, with some people waiting up to three hours to clear security and other controls.  KLM says as well as the cost of removing baggage, rebooking passengers and other issues, its image was damaged by the delays at the Amsterdam airport. KLM has been complaining that Schiphol cannot adequately handle its increased passenger numbers for some time. Fearing the peak summer travel period, KLM president Pieter Elbers demanded a structural solution to the problem in May. Schiphol acknowledged the problem and opened additional doors to the security area. This week it announced that passengers with hand baggage only would be given prioity at security control. More passengers The number of air passengers using Dutch airports grew by 9% to 15.5 million in the first three months of the year, the national statistics office CBS said on Wednesday. The lion's share of the passengers were at Schiphol, followed by Eindhoven which handled 1.1 million passengers in the first three months of the year, a gain of 20%, the CBS said. Rotterdam/The Hague airport actually saw a decline in passenger numbers as did Maastricht airport. Groningen in the north registered an increase of 30% although it handled only 31,000 passengers in the period.  More >

Asscher makes more cash for teachers key

IT failure leaves Dutch police unable to issue automatic fines Labour leader and caretaker social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher says he won't sign off on the government's 2018 spending plans unless there is more money for teachers' salaries. The outgoing cabinet is beginning to put together a holding budget for 2018 while talks on forming a new government continue. Traditionally such a budget does not include new policy, particularly if it costs money. However, Asscher told broadcaster NOS that he will not sign the budget papers unless caretaker ministers agree to take action on primary school teacher pay. The budget for 2018 will be presented on the third Tuesday in September. VVD parliamentary party leader Halbe Zijlstra accused Asscher of acting inappropriately, given parliamentary traditions. In addition, it is 'not okay' to attempt to impose his will on all the VVD ministers still in office, Zijlstra said. Asscher refused to take the Labour party into a new round of coalition talks because of the party's huge losses in the March 15 vote. Prime minister Mark Rutte also said he is 'disappointed' in Asscher's decision. 'We worked together extremely well for four years and this disappoints me somewhat,' Rutte said. Policy The VVD, Christian Democrats, D66 and ChristenUnie are starting serious negotiations on forming a new cabinet on Wednesday and many commentators expect extra spending on education to be a key policy issue. Caretaker education minister Jet Bussemaker, who represents the Labour party, has said there is no more money for teachers pay because her ministry has overspent its budget. Primary school teachers went on strike for an hour on Tuesday and more action is planned.  More >

More over-60s kill themselves

IT failure leaves Dutch police unable to issue automatic fines Last year 1,894 people committed suicide in the Netherlands, a slight rise of 23 on the previous year, the national statistics office CBS said on Wednesday. Given the growth in the size of the population, the suicide rate remains 11 per 100,000 inhabitants, roughly in line with the European average. However, there has been an increase in the number of people over the age of 60 killing themselves - the over-60s now account for one third of all suicides, the CBS said. Men in the Netherlands are twice as likely as women to kill themselves, and divorce or the death of a partner are major risk factor.   More >

Gov't sells more ABN Amro for €1.5bn

IT failure leaves Dutch police unable to issue automatic fines The Dutch government has further reduced its shareholding in ABN Amro, selling a block representing 7% of the bank's outstanding shares for €1.5bn. Broadcaster NOS said that the government still holds 63% of ABN Amro shares, worth €13.5bn at the bank's current share price. ABN Amro shares have risen sharply since the end of 2016 when they were trading at €17.75. The current price is above €23. This is the latest of three tranches of bank shares sold by the state, yielding it more than €6bn. However, it is unlikely that the government will be fully reimbursed for its 2008 rescue effort which cost taxpayers €21.7bn, the broadcaster said.   More >