Government should protect Dutch export against corruption
The OECD has already been saying for a long time that the Netherlands should put much more effort in actively fighting corruption in international business. In fact, as Atradius DSB, the Dutch Export Credit Agency, is granting export credit insurances to the abovementioned companies, the Netherlands might even be actively supporting corrupt practices. In 2012, Atradius DSB and Petrobras signed a cooperation agreement that enables the insurance of Dutch exports of goods and services to Petrobras for up to US$1 billion. Despite the current developments, this agreement is still in force.
While it is clear to everyone that the very poor suffer the most from corruption, Atradius DSB does not thoroughly assess the risks of a project before insurance. It only asks of Dutch companies not to engage in immoral practices like bribery. If it turns out that a company has not complied with the agreement after all, the insurance can be withheld, or a possible compensation can be cancelled. However, to this day, this has never happened. Although things have clearly gone wrong in the case of SBM Offshore, Atradius DSB has already announced on its website that a new application for insurance is currently under its consideration. It concerns the delivery of a new floating production and transshipment facility in the oil basin Santos, just off the Brazilian coast.
Atradius DSB must act much more firmly against corruption, and it can do so by doing a comprehensive investigation beforehand. The Dutch Public Prosecution Department must also be more alert and should - at the slightest sign of corruption – intervene and do extra research. It is unthinkable that this is now being left to the US to take care of, and that the Netherlands continues doing ‘business as usual’. This puts the Dutch export to irresponsible risks. By neglecting the developments around Petrobras and continuing to promote export as always, Atradius DSB is basically undermining the international position of the Dutch export sector.
On December 23rd, this article was published in Dutch as a readers' letter in the Dutch paper NRC Handelsblad.