An ‘explosive’ memo about the Allowances affair was not ‘hidden away’, but was not shared widely so that it could be mapped out what had happened to that signal. That is what State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen (Supplies) says in a letter to the House of Representatives.
It’s all about the so-called ‘memo-Palms’. In that internal document, from 2017, lawyer Sandra Palmen states that the Tax and Customs Administration has acted ‘reproachably’ in the fraud hunt for benefit parents and should compensate them. Nothing, or little, was done about it. The memo was lost and only surfaced internally in 2019 and only made public a year later.
RTL News and Loyalty reported last week that the Ministry of Finance had received ‘a signal’ that the memo had been deliberately removed. The ministry then released e-mails today stating that an official had indeed checked with colleagues how widely the memo had been distributed. In addition, an official emailed: “Do not distribute further and do not hang in digidoc.”
According to Van Huffelen, ‘the request not to archive the memo now was intended to enable a pure reconstruction of the memo’s follow-up’. “I have no reason to doubt the integrity of these employees.
In other words: officials were checking the status of the memo when it ‘surfaced’ among officials in 2019. “It was unclear where it came from and what exactly it was. A policy officer asked another policy officer not to archive it, so that the timeline would remain clear about what had been done with it.”
Van Huffelen also emphasizes that an investigation by accountant PWC is still ongoing, which will probably be completed in July.
MP Renske Leijten (SP) is not satisfied with that. “The interrogation committee almost didn’t have the memo, and didn’t have these emails. It’s just ‘operation cover-up-almost successful’. This just isn’t possible. I can’t hear this anymore. The Palmen memo should have been reported, and this e-mail should also have been included in the documents to the committee in 2019.”
The House of Representatives even thinks that the two highest officials of the Tax Authorities and the Ministry of Finance knew that the Palmen memo about the allowance affair was withheld, but they denied this in their interrogations under oath before the Parliamentary Interrogation Committee Child Care Allowance (POK). Some members of the House of Representatives therefore speak of suspicions of perjury.
At the very least, the Palms memo and the now surfaced e-mail should have been shared with the POK, they think. Van Huffelen agrees, but believes that PWC’s investigation should clarify why this has not happened.
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