May 25, 2023 at 12:35 PM
Former Director-General Jaap Uijlenbroek of the Tax and Customs Administration will not be prosecuted for perjury during an interrogation by the committee of inquiry into the benefits scandal. The former top civil servant said at the time that he knew nothing about a memo that could have prevented a lot of suffering for duped parents.
The Public Prosecution Service now concludes that the former top civil servant had heard about the so-called Palms memo, but did not consciously lie that he had not read it.
“Investigation has shown that the memo was discussed in consultations in which he participated and that the memo was referred to in e-mails, but not under the title ‘Palms’,” the OM writes on Thursday.
The memo was drawn up in 2017 by Sandra Palmen, at the time a senior lawyer at the Tax and Customs Administration. At the time, she warned that parents were unjustifiably in trouble due to the hard fraud hunt for childcare benefits from the Tax and Customs Administration.
Palmen called the tax authorities’ actions towards the parents “reprehensible”. She “emphatically” advised to adjust the working method, to declare the complaints of parents well-founded and to offer them some form of compensation.
If something had been done with Palmen’s warnings then, it could have prevented a lot of suffering for duped parents. The memo was only made public only in the fall of 2020. The official and political top of the Tax and Customs Administration claimed that they had not heard anything about it until then.
Did Uijlenbroek really know nothing about memo?
Uijlenbroek stated at the end of 2020 that he had become aware of the memo through the media and that the document had not reached him in any other way. But a reconstruction by RTL Nieuws and Trouw showed that the memo had already reached the ministry in 2019.
That raised the question of whether Uijlenbroek really knew nothing about the memo. During the interrogations he was under oath and then lying is perjury. A criminal offense.
“I was able to take note of this memo through the media,” Uijlenbroek told the committee of inquiry on November 20, 2020. And a little later in the interrogation, “In no way did that memo ever reach me before this media release.”
By “taking note” and “reaching”, Uijlenbroek meant that he had never received, read or studied the memo himself before, he stated to the National Investigation Department.
The Public Prosecution Service now says that there is no question of perjury. This conclusion is drawn on the basis of Uijlenbroek’s statement to the National Investigation Department and the distance that the top official had from the content. Another factor is that during that period the memo “did not have the meaning that the document later acquired”, according to the Public Prosecution Service.