Dutch ship firm kept fees secret


Tribune Staff Reporter


THE Dutch company that supplied nine Royal Bahamas Defence Force vessels misrepresented to the Dutch government how much it paid a foreign intermediary that worked on the project. 

The Netherlands government sometimes protects Dutch companies from non-payment through an export credit guarantee (ECG) programme, which is provided by Atradius Dutch State Business (ADSB).

When the Deutsche Bank loaned the Bahamas $149 million in 2014 for the Damen Shipyard Group’s supply of nine RBDF vessels, its agreement fell under ADSB’s ECG, according to the Global Trade Review in 2014. 

The World Bank disbarred Damen for 18 months in 2016 for failing to disclose an agent and the amount of commissions due to the agent.

The Dutch government then temporarily suspended Damen from accessing its export credit insurance.

Last month, Dutch Secretary of Finance Wopke Hoekstra said ADSB subsequently conducted an investigation and found 14 cases where Damen gave “insufficient or incorrect information in respect of paid agency commissions.”

“On the basis of this additional information, the state has reassessed the 14 cases,” he said, in response to questions in the Dutch parliament. “This has led to the imposition of measures on ten of the 14 transactions by the right to compensation for damages.”

It is said that Damen’s project with The Bahamas was one of these cases.

Damen used NSG Management & Technical Services LTD as its intermediary in the Caribbean.

Stephen Hobson heads NSG. Dutch investigators believe Damen paid 12 percent of its contract with the Bahamian government to NSG as commissions.

It is not clear what NSG’s work on the project involved.

On its website, the company says: “Other procurement, supply and commissioning projects in the region include the government of the Bahamas for the Royal Bahamas Defence Force…”

Its website also features a photo from Curacao in March 2013 showing two Bahamian government officials alongside Mr Hobson and Damen officials after a letter of intent to acquire the defence force vessels was signed.

The photo is captioned: “The Bahamas, DAMEN and NSG Teams.”

Dutch investigators are said to be examining whether Damen allegedly bribed foreign officials in multiple jurisdictions through their foreign agents. NSG is said to be at the centre of its inquiry.