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OM hustling culture in South Limburg

SITTARD - In South Limburg, the "hustling culture" is more entrenched than in other parts of the Netherlands. As a result, officials and administrators are more likely to come into contact with the justice system. That explains Chief Public Prosecutor Cees van Spierenburg of the national prosecutor's office.

He is thereby reacting to the verdicts in the Janssen de Jong case. In that major corruption trial, the judge on Wednesday imposed stiff prison sentences on two ex-managers of road construction company JaJo Infra and six civil servants in South Limburg. The national prosecutor's office directed the national criminal investigation in the case. "As you get closer to the Belgian border, there is more rustling," said the chief public prosecutor. Research by the national criminal investigation department showed last year that more officials turned up in bribery cases in Limburg between 2003 and 2007 than in other regions.

In the large national real estate fraud now in play and the major construction fraud at the beginning of this century, Limburg played a much smaller role. Van Spierenburg: "That involved large-scale business corruption. In the south there is more of a hear-what-you-do culture. More Catholic. That culture relates poorly to criminal law."

Governor Léon Frissen says he is ashamed of the integrity scandals affecting South Limburg over the past two years. "But certainly a chief officer has to back up his claims with facts.Scientists come up with different figures." South Limburg and the province have done a lot of work on integrity in recent years, the governor stressed. "As a result, cases also come to light earlier than elsewhere. Just like in Amsterdam. That city fired 25 officials last year."

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