Air Holland 'financed by drugs money'
30 November 2004
AMSTERDAM — Two directors of bankrupt firm Air Holland have been arrested on charges they financed the airline for years with illegal drugs money, it was reported Tuesday.
The arrested directors have been identified as former Air Holland chief executive Cees van D., 52, and the company's former financial director, Paul G., 42.
A total of seven people have been arrested on drugs charges amid allegations that the airline was used to set up a drugs route between the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles and Suriname.
Police have raided the homes of the seven suspects in recent weeks, accusing them of money laundering and smuggling at least 633kg of cocaine. The
shipment was discovered several months ago in a container of coffee beans at Rotterdam Port.
According to a report in newspaper De Telegraaf, a spokesman for the public prosecution has confirmed the arrests. A total of EUR 50,000 and a firearm were also reportedly seized in the raids.
The suspects allegedly worked on assignment for a 37-year-old resident of The Hague. This person is currently being detained in Brazil after allegedly being found in possession of 50,000 ecstasy pills on 11 September.
The EUR 25 million allegedly earned by the drug dealing is believed to have been invested into Air Holland, but the company's planes are not thought to have been used for drug smuggling. The profits were also invested in real estate and other businesses.
A 34-year-old woman of Bussum and a 52-year-old Amersfoort man are accused of money laundering. Two Rotterdam residents aged 34 and 40 and a 32-year-old Portuguese man have been arrested on drug smuggling charges.
The financially-ailing Air Holland has been a source of controversy for some time. It previously hit the headlines after being granted permits by the aviation inspectorate despite the fact that it was almost bankrupt.
When Air Holland went bust in April 2004, the company left behind a debt of some EUR 30 million and Dutch entrepreneur Erik de Vlieger bought it out.