The memoriam has disappeared from the website. “We are shocked to inform you that Frank Oranje, civil-law notary at Pels Rijcken, has died,” was the text published by the law firm last November after his sudden death. “We will miss his warm personality, sharp mind, caring and great sense of humor.”
On Tuesday, Pels Rijcken reported again that it was “shocked”. But now because of “the behavior of Oranje”. The prominent civil-law notary, who worked for Pels Rijcken for over 25 years, appears to have robbed business clients of the office for millions. Through “sophisticated fraudulent dealing” he funneled amounts from third-party money accounts into his own private accounts for about ten years.
The Hague-based Pels Rijcken (290 employees) is one of the country’s largest and most prominent law and civil-law notary firms. As a ‘state attorney’, Pels Rijcken acts for the national government as legal advisor and attorney in about a thousand court cases a year.
For example, if the State is summoned by Virus Truth, Pels Rijcken will defend the curfew in court. It has been doing this for decades, without tendering. Defending the government is lucrative. So figured One today that in 2018 ministries had spent about 25 million euros on hiring the state attorney.
Frank Oranje was one of the faces of Pels Rijcken and was even appointed chairman of the board as the first civil-law notary in 2018.
Also read: Notary public may be removed from office for fraud and deception
Orange was suspended in September 2020 and denied access to the office when the Public Prosecution Service informed Pels Rijcken of a criminal investigation that the FIOD had carried out against the notary since 2019. The Orange (58) took his own life in November.
He has not given an explanation for the fraud and what he did with the money. The case around Pels Rijcken is characterized as “surreal” and “a mystery”. In a press statement, the law firm said it “doesn’t understand what moved him.” Pels Rijcken has compensated the business customers of whom Oranje stole and is now in ‘constructive’ consultations with the executor of his estate about compensation.
It is unclear to what extent the stolen money can be recovered. The latest annual report of Orange’s private holding company shows 3 million euros in equity: an amount that he could also have earned with the regular, generous partner income of Pels Rijcken. Exactly how much has disappeared, the office and the Public Prosecution Service keep in the middle.
The four-eyes principle applied, bookings seemed legitimate
Spokesman from Pels Rijcken
The issue is painful for Pels Rijcken. The fact that a top civil-law notary has been able to commit fraud unseen for years raises questions about the internal organization and control procedures.
As an independent intermediary, civil-law notaries fulfill a pivotal role in economic and social intercourse. They are appointed by the Crown and exercise a legal monopoly: real estate transactions and certain share transfers must go through a notary. An important part of the job description is the management of third-party money accounts into which, for example, the purchase price of a house or company takeover is paid.
Also read: The suspicious transactions of the price-stunting notaries
“You park your money in a safe place. It has to be really safe, ”emphasizes Marijke Kaptein, chairman of the Financial Supervision Office (BFT), which was established in 1939 to supervise third-party money accounts. As a supervisor of the notarial profession, BFT is currently investigating the matter. Kaptein states in a general sense that such investigations not only zoom in on the role of a notary, but also on the office and whether the control processes are in order.
Orange is not the first notary to steal a trust account, but the most prominent. Notaries have been removed from office or prosecuted more often in recent years, but this mainly concerned small players. Because of the susceptibility to abuse, the Royal Dutch Association of Civil-law Notaries states that it is ‘customary’ for ‘a colleague to monitor all payments’. This is called the four-eyes principle. How an individual civil-law notary organizes this internal control is up to the office itself.
“Offices must organize their checks in such a way that not one person can control what is in an account,” says Leon Verstappen, professor of notarial law at the University of Groningen. He finds the fraud case particularly remarkable. “It happens to the state attorney. They just need to have these types of procedures in order. Several people always have to watch, so that someone does not get such an opportunity. ”
A spokesperson for Pels Rijcken states that the office did have such checks. “There was a four-eyes principle, but they seemed legitimate bookings. Orange knew how to use it. It was very sophisticated. ” On the advice of an external researcher, the internal procedures have now been ‘tightened up’.
Pels Rijcken sees himself as a ‘victim’. It is not clear whether the office itself can face sanctions. When asked, the Public Prosecution Service wants to make “no statements” about this as long as the criminal investigation is ongoing.
For the time being, Pels Rijcken does not have to worry about the most important client – the State of the Netherlands. Outgoing Minister of Justice Ferd Grapperhaus (CDA) has “no cause for concern about the quality and legitimacy of the state attorney”.
You can talk about suicide at the national helpline 113 Suicide Prevention. Telephone 0900-0113 or www.113.nl
Many riddles about millions of fraud committed by the deceased top executive of the state attorney
Source link Many riddles about millions of fraud committed by the deceased top executive of the state attorney