Exactly five years ago in ZEMBLA, whistle-blower Ad Bos revealed the existence of a vast construction industry fraud. The broadcast resulted in a parliamentary inquiry that confirmed Bos’s assertions: the construction industry is conning Dutch society out of billions. In The Dutch Construction Cartel, ZEMBLA looks back on what happened, and takes stock. What were the consequences for the construction firms, and how have the whistle-blowers fared?
The Justice department prosecuted only four of the 1300 construction companies involved. Ten company directors appeared in court. Their punishments are relatively mild, ranging from a handful of community service orders to fines of between 3000 and 100.000 euro.
According to former Dutch left-wing MP Van Gijzel, there are also few repercussions for politicians. The parliamentary inquiry committee considered the close ties between the construction world, politics and the civil service to be a major issue. ZEMBLA presents an entire series of politicians who, at the time of the construction fraud, were supervisory directors of construction companies. And these companies in particular appear to have been fined recently by the NMa, the Netherlands Competition Authority, for illegal price-fixing and cartels.
ZEMBLA also spoke the men who blew the whistle on the construction fraud - Bos, Zinhagel and Drost. Even though exposing the fraud saved Dutch society billions, these whistle-blowers, quite literally, received not a single word of thanks.