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‘Zuidoost council members may face tax problems’

28 August 2007 - The controversial district council members in Zuidoost have not been involved in serious wrongdoing, according to a report published last Sunday. However, according to the Accounting Office, the Tax Administration may throw a spanner in the works, because they have made ‘incredible’ statements about their income.

The Bing consultancy, responsible for the report, would have uncritically based its conclusions on these statements, even though they are incompatible with previous statements and with evidence such as invoices and receipts. Especially new statements by council members André Bhola and Egbert Doest are ‘incredible’, according to Accounting Office director Victor Eiff.

Asked whether he intends to report forgery to the authorities, he told News from Amsterdam that doing so might not result in prosecution, because this type of cases are not given high priority by the Public Prosecutor.

However, a report to the Tax Administration would probably get the involved council members in trouble. He thinks it is not the task of the Accounting Office to file such a report, but says that all information is publicly available and that any citizen can draw his or her conclusions.

In June, the Accounting Office concluded that various Zuidoost council members had failed to abstain from voting on subsidies for organisations they have ties with. Three current council members would have personally benefited from such subsidies. They were expelled from the PvdA group in the district council, but the party also commissioned a ‘second opinion’ from Bing.

Bing concludes that the problems have been exaggerated: “Some council members - but others as well - have been careless with regard to a number of statutory provisions. Not very nice and improvements are necessary. Zuidoost is not unique in this respect”.

Eiff is not just critical of the way in which Bing carried out its investigation, but also of the PvdA, which commissioned the second opinion. Basically, this amounts to saying it does not believe the Accounting Office, Eiff said. If such a thing would happen more often, this might affect the basis of trust that is necessary to be able to work for the district council.


Bing says that additional research has yielded new information. This information mainly regards council members André Bhola and Egbert Doest. For the PvdA, the additional research is an important reason to follow the Bing report rather than the Accounting Office report.

The Accounting Office finds that Bing has uncritically accepted statements that have been drawn up after the publication of the Accounting Office report. Since these statements contradict previous statements and evidence such as receipts and invoices, Bing should at least have investigated them.

For example, Doest told Bing that he stopped accepting payment for his activities for a subsidised organisation when he became a council member in 2006, whereas the Accounting Office has an invoice dated March 2007 at its disposal. Doest now says that the invoice was 'mistaken'.

Bhola told Bing he had used a fee to pay for expenses, whereas according to the Accounting Office, other documents show that these expenses had already been paid by an organisation.

Asked to respond to the Accounting Office’s criticism, both Bhola and Doest referred to the Bing report. “The Bing report reflects reality, and it is correct”, Doest said in an e-mail message.

Illustration: Zuidoost District Office (photo Pieter Delicaat / Wikipedia). Background: Bing investigation, Accounting Office investigation plus responses to Bing investigation (all in Dutch)


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