“Documents that we have managed to get our hands on show that….” is a frequently used text in journalistic circles. This is the impressive behavior of gorillas. breast roll. Just look at us: no one managed to get those pieces but us! Often there is also ‘wob’ and the way in which government bodies deal with an appeal by journalists to the Public Access Act (WOB) has led the journal to the standard lament that large parts of the text had been painted black.
Also read – File Sywert van Lienden
I then think: you are an ‘investigative journalist’, aren’t you? Then make sure you find out what’s under that black paint, instead of complaining that it’s there. If you manage to do that, you can justifiably proudly report that you are somewhere ‘managed to lay your hand on‘, instead of putting a feather on your hat because someone leaked a document to you.
We saw a nice example of impressive behavior on October 16, 2021 at the ‘research platform’ Follow the Money. Proud as a peacock, they brought a ‘first’ about mouth caps tout Sywert van Lienden. But it was old fashioned.
Van Lienden, wrote Follow the Money with some excitement, had criticized the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport in a few tweets in April 2020. It was a scandal that VWS was not able to arrange sufficient medical protective equipment. Sywert would do it for a while. ‘To not’. Sywert’s tweets are said to have urged VWS to do business with the trio of Van Lienden, Damme and Van Gestel, then still operating under the name Stichting Hulptroepen Alliantie, with which they gave the appearance of selflessly helping to quickly provide healthcare workers with good mouth masks. provided. FTM publicists Jan-Hein Strop and Stefan Vermeulen went wild:
“The publicity pressure of Van Lienden was the direct reason for the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport to bring in its Auxiliary Troops Alliance foundation, which was established to provide healthcare with face masks ‘at cost price’. Sources within the ministry confirm this to Follow the Money.”
‘Sources confirm that‘. Hahaha, yes. Volkskrant journalists Frank Hendrickx and Tom Kreling already wrote this on 5 June 2021 in a publication about the 12-page ‘negotiation document’ in which Sywert et al. put their conditions for the deal on the table.
De Volkskrant also wrote about statements by then Minister of Medical Care Tamara van Ark in the House of Representatives on 3 June:
“I do not rule out that the fact that someone sought so much publicity and let it be known in so many places that he could do better himself played a role.”
The good listener understands what the minister said. Van Lienden’s national fame, position in the CDA and publicity influence terrified VWS because they were terrified that medical personnel would be without protective equipment and Van Lienden could indeed demonstrate that he could have solved the problem, but VWS did not take him seriously. took. Later it turned out that there had been no problem at all, but at that time the pressure was real, although I do not understand how a ministry could have panicked so much. Van Lienden et al played that cleverly.
On June 17, 2021, the report ‘Investigation of possible irregularities in relation to the National Consortium Resources – Relief Goods Alliance’ by research firm Grant Thornton was published. There we read, in different terms, the same story. “The order of the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport was to buy a lot. There should never be a shortage again, as had happened at the beginning of the COVID crisis”.
Did Follow the Money still have some news with the story that a few days before Van Lienden critically tweeted about VWS, Sywert’s business partner Bernd Damme had the domain name ‘reliefgoodsalliance.com’ registered and the gentlemen were already secretly working on setting up a commercial BV? to target? No, that too has been known for a long time. Grant Thornton’s report describes in detail the state of affairs with the establishment of the Relief Goods Alliance and the interrelationship with the Stichting Hulptroepen Alliance. So nothing new under the sun.
The most glaring aspect of the Sywert affair is the question of whether his political connections have brought him and his cronies about thirty million euros in profit. Earlier I wrote that, if true, this would represent a sample of corruption of unprecedented proportions. So far, Prince Bernhard’s million dollar Lockheed bribe is one of our biggest bribery scandals. Sywert et al. go over this more than thirty times. On this aspect, Follow the Money does not get any further than the question of whether the telephone call that Van Lienden (CDA) received from the political advisor to Minister Hugo de Jonge (CDA), one Bart van den Brink (CDA), was commissioned by De Jonge. (CDA). “VWS does not want to clarify this and Van den Brink himself refuses to answer”, reports Follow-the-Money. So much for this investigative journalism.
All media, from De Telegraaf to NOS, took over the FTM story blindly and prominently, without adding a single relevant news item. In this way, this umpteenth wave of publicity about Sywert, Bernd and Camille took on the character of another round of lazy piggybacking on the advertising waves. I have no objection whatsoever to Sywert being regularly put in the limelight, but please do so with additional facts and revealing reporting and not with old fashioned.
Here are a few suggestions for investigative journalism:
First: As early as June 7, I raised the question of why no one is looking into the reason why just under ten of RGA BV’s total profit after deduction of corporation tax went to Sywert and his partners Damme and Van Gestel had to make do with five million. It is obvious that the extra five million for Sywert was the reward for his special position. He had national fame, publicity inputs – including as a former table gentleman at De Wereld Draait Door – and the connections in the CDA and elsewhere in The Hague. Either Sywert was the chief of all chiefs who paid his complicates hush money, or Bernd and Camille acknowledged Sywert’s claim that it was thanks to his connections and position that the silver fleet sailed in. This is one of the most crucial aspects of the matter. When Sywert started e-mailing me and threatening me, I asked him twice. He didn’t go into it. No journalist talks about it.
Second: the Grant Thornton report does not mention any name, but speaks of ‘official LHC’, ‘official VWS’, ‘officer Mediq’, ‘two individual persons’, ‘one of the founders’, ‘contact person RGA’, ‘second founder of the foundation…’ etc. Once these anonymizations have been punctured, we will know a lot more.
Thirdly: Van Liendens Relief Goods Alliance BV, a brand new BV without any track record received a highly unusual pre-financing of more than 100 million euros from the government to trade in face masks in China with which they had no experience whatsoever. From my own administrative experience, I know that for large money transfers from a ministry, the co-initialization of an official from the Ministry of Finance is customary, if not mandatory. In this special case, partly in view of the enormous size of the amount and the political sensitivities, I cannot imagine that the Minister of Finance himself was not informed. As is known, that is also a CDA member. Find out if that happened.
Fourth: the reporting focuses on the profit of the business trio and especially that of Sywert. Nine million euros for the pseudo-philanthropist. The real issue is 100.8 million euros, excluding freight costs amounting to 268,000 euros, which Sywert VWS managed to put in the sights. That amount of government resources was squandered on a jerk deal with forty million unusable mouth masks that will all soon end up in the landfill. Thirty million gross disappeared into the pockets of Sywert, Bernd and Camille. More than seventy million slipped into other pockets. Can someone please expose that chain of fellow profiteers? The producers, the packers, the transporters, the customs clearers and all the other big and small businessmen who were billing somewhere along the entire process and trajectory.
Fifth: RGA BV, so Sywert, bought its trade from two Chinese companies: Ryzur (45,200,000 euros) and ShenQuan (55,600,000 euros). Ryzur is located in Anhui, a province in eastern China. ShenQuan is located in Zhangqiu, Shandong Province, in the Midwest of China. I have not vetted the companies and am not suggesting anything, but we know that the Chinese do not shy away from using Uyghur forced laborers or children’s hands to keep production costs low. The least question that can be asked of VWS is: when the contract was awarded to RGA, knowing that it was going to do business in China, were the current procurement rules of international corporate social responsibility (ICSR) imposed and was compliance monitored?
Sixth: RGA BV supplied face masks to VWS/LCH at a price of 2.26 euros (Ryzur) and 2.78 euros (ShenQuan). The GT report shows that prices in April and May 2020 were between 1.16 euros and 2.52 euros. RGA was therefore already close to the upper limit with the cheapest mouth caps, with the most expensive one well above it. This aspect will be investigated by Deloitte on behalf of former minister Van Ark: where is that report? Deadline September 1, 2021). But what were the prices that Sywert cs paid to the Chinese with the hundred million in the pocket and what margin did his Asian business partners take? I suspect that the production costs of such a mask were a fraction of the prices charged. For example, Dutch eyewear shops buy their trade in China for a minimal part of what is sold at Hans Anders and Specsavers. My suspicion is that a few Chinese have become much richer from the mask trade than Sywert and his cronies. Did the Chinese know what was going on? They are not crazy and can also use the internet. Who was behind it and what were they thinking when Sywert showed up in their yard?
Come on, investigative journalists! There are still many tiles to lift in the Sywert affair and a lot of hands to lay on missing documents and facts. There is still a lot of black lacquer to scratch off and anonymity to be removed. Go to China, follow the route from there to here. Reassure us that no child’s hand or a Uyghur imprisoned in a concentration camp has touched our mouth masks, even though we never wore them. Expose the mischievous opportunists who hitched a ride on Sywert’s luggage carrier. Unravel the political intrigue and expose the corruption.