Industry News

Damen Shipyards Raided, Accused of Bribing Government Officials

According to Dutch news sources, the detection department of the Dutch Tax Administration raided shipbuilder Damen Shipyards in Gorinchem on 13 January 2017. This was confirmed by the company’s spokesman on 16 January after a report in the business magazine Quote’s website.

The raid is part of an investigation into foreign corruption. Damen Shipyards is suspected of paying bribes. The investigation is still 'in progress', according to the spokesman, and no one has been taken into custody.

The raid on Damen may have something to do with irregularities that one or multiple agents of the shipbuilder abroad have possibly committed. This representative of Damen abroad had a long lasting working relationship with the Dutch shipbuilder. In 2014 the shipbuilder decided to conduct the investigation and a year later the agent had to leave, with a settlement of € 5 million. As a result of this affair accountants Ernst & Young issued an unqualified opinion on the financial statements for 2015. It remained an audited statement with a limitation.

Damen stated in December it was annoying that the auditor has not issued an unqualified report, 'something starts to fall. Government customers look to it.’ Additional investigations conducted by the order of the Dutch Tax Administration were still in question.

As a result Damen has further tightened its own compliance rules.

“In the boardroom has been a lot of consultation on this issue,” said a spokesman of the largest Dutch shipbuilding group.

The 'codes of conduct’ (rules of doing business) have been strengthened and customers and suppliers have to sign these rules. Employees of Damen must review these rules also with the agents of Damen abroad. There is also widespread publicity given on a whistle blowing procedure, and the temporary position of compliance officer turned into a permanent one.

World Bank Affair

Said tightening of anti-money laundering and anti-corruption policy also has to do with another affair in which Damen was involved, and it is still suffering the consequences. In May last year, the World Bank announced the shipbuilder would be excluded from the scope of orders financed by the multilateral organization for one and a half years. The suspension was the result of the incomplete filing of documents for the construction of a fisheries vessel inspection for Sierra Leone.

The standard suspension for this offense is 36 months. But because the international shipbuilder from the beginning actively cooperated in the investigation in this matter, the World Bank halved the punishment. According to a Damen spokesman, “We were obviously not happy with this ruling, but the suspension was justified.”

Source: fd

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