According to the Disciplinary Tribunal, the negligence of civil notaries Cees de Zeeuw and René Spit is in fact so serious that the suspension was appropriate. But because the damage was due to Orange’s fraud, and not the failure of the notaries to act, they were reprimanded. The judge is also considering that they will resign this year and have cooperated in the investigation.
During the session last month, some participants indicated that it was difficult for them to deviate from the instructions of their president, Orange. The Disciplinary Court does not pay much attention to this argument. “Orange’s authority as an experienced civil notary and chairman of the board does not mean that he can act unchecked,” the statement read. According to the judge, there was no question of complex misconduct: “His actions were more brutal than intelligent.”
The Bureau of Financial Supervision (BFT) filed complaints last year against four (candidate) civil notaries as a result of fraud committed by their boss Frank Orange, who is also the chairman of Pels Rijcken. The four BFTs were accused of not being careful enough.
Civil Law Notary De Zeeuw and Spit acknowledge that they have not ensured adequate management and control within the office. According to the House, they should have been more critical of the bank accounts opened by Orange. There was also no offer of the checks that Orange had printed with his own hands to compensate the deceived Converium contributors, which he sent and then received, many of them afterwards as undeliverable and put into his own pocket.
In addition, one of the civil notaries has implemented an internal bond when amending the articles of association of an institution without further research into this amendment. According to the disciplinary judge, this should have been the case. His office colleague Oranji was involved with that institution as a manager. The judge’s ruling “requires additional vigilance.”
Moreover, notaries should not allow the use of office trust accounts in money management activities. The complaint that civil notaries acted as a bank in this way is justified.
The accusation against civil law nominee notary Peter Hoogendoorn is that he acted negligently when completing a file in which Biels Rieken administered more than €58 million to a foundation that was involved in compensating deceived Converium shareholders.
According to the Disciplinary Court, when examining the assets of this institution, Hoogendoorn did not verify all thirteen bank accounts in this file, although he knew of more than one. “He informed the foundation that there is no money to distribute. However, the unsupervised account holds more than 7.7 million euros. Orange subsequently transferred the money to its own account.”
According to the Disciplinary Court, the civil law candidate notary, who already had eight years of experience, “seriously failed in the performance of his duty of investigation.” Moreover, he miscalculated his role and responsibility: he dispensed with his work as administrative tasks and the work of a secretary. The House is concerned about this lack of insight, along with a limited and slightly independent view of the tasks.
The Disciplinary Court of Notaries has declared that the complaint against a fourth notary civil law in charge of Water Admiral, is unfounded. According to the judge, after an order was issued by Orange, he asked critical questions to the financial management of Pels Rijcken and to Orange himself, and therefore “acted conscientiously and as carefully as possible.”
Pels Rijcken himself says through a spokesperson that the office is dealing with the disciplinary judge’s criticism of “oversight in relation to the payment-on-documentation process, of course”.
“The fraud prompted us to strengthen the office organization as a whole and create a separate Risk and Compliance Department under the leadership of a new Director of Risk and Compliance,” the spokesperson said.
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