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Dutch News
Bos investigates bank info to US 3/16/2007
AMSTERDAM – Finance Minister Wouter Bos is surprised at reports that the US intelligence services have access to data on Dutch bank account holders. "This is news to us and a reason for concern for myself and my colleagues," the minister said.

Bos announced that an investigation would be launched. He and Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin want to know how far the tentacles of the US services reach into the Dutch financial world. Bos promised to report to Parliament before the end of April, the Volkskrant reports.

Kees Vendrik of Green-left GroenLinks had called Bos to Parliament after statements on the matter from Jacob Kohnstamm, head of the Data Protection Authority (CBP), in the NRC Handelsblad.

Kohnstamm says that banks violate privacy legislation by handing over information on Dutch clients to the US authorities without informing the clients.

The US is interested in all conceivable streams of financing in its war against terrorism. It was already clear in 2002 that Belgian company Swift, which arranges bank-to-bank transactions worldwide, was giving information to the Americans.

The Dutch government took no action at the time. Bos said "little could be done by Dutch or European law then because it involved a private company."

Now the case is different however because the Americans reportedly directly requested information from the Dutch banks. Bos first wants to know whether the US services approached the public prosecution department initially with a request for legal assistance in the matter.

The minister told Parliament that he has not been told whether this took place. Nor is he aware of any cooperation between US and Dutch regulators.

Coalition parties Christian democrat CDA and Labour PvdA are concerned about the handing over of information. Financial spokesperson for the Labour faction Ferd Crone was not satisfied with Bos''s comment that banking regulator De Nederlandsche Bank does not concern itself with the privacy of bank clients.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007

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