On March 23rd 2015, Dutch newspaper Volkskrant brought a story (in Dutch) alleging that information of the Dutch intelligence & security service AIVD ended up in the hands of criminals after theft of data from the Curaçao Security Service (VDC). Here is a translation of the Volkskrant article:
‘Information of Dutch intel agency AIVD in hands of criminals after data theft at Curaçao Security Service VDC’
by Charlotte Huisman
Information from the Dutch intelligence & security service AIVD has ended up in the hands of criminals after a large data robbery at the Curaçao security service VDC, according to Dutch MP Ronald van Raak (Socialist Party).
Leaked documents show how the former Prime Minister of Curaçao, Gerrit Schotte, was involved in possible corruption within the security service of Curaçao.
This security service must, among others, commissioned by the governor, investigate whether politicians are ‘clean enough’ to, for instance, become a Minister. Schotte and his team have put a lot of effort into blocking such a screening. How far they are willing to go in that, is made clear in this story.
Employees of the security service certainly can not have relations with politicians. Still, the head of the service, Lawrence P. of the then-Antillian security service, flew to Sint Maarten on September 16th 2010 for a meeting with Gerrit Schotte, Minister-to-be George Jamaloodin, and Theo Heyliger, a controversial politician at Sint Maarten.
Report to police
On such small islands you will then be ‘signaled’. A day later, Edsel Gumbs, director of the Antillian security service, makes a phone call to the Antillian Minister of Justice about this forbidden meeting. In response, the Minister denies P. access to the building of the security service.
A lot changes on October 10th 2010. Curaçao is no longer part of the Netherlands Antilles, but as of that day is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of The Netherlands. Gerrit Schotte is the first Prime Minister. And the security service for the entire Antilles is reformed into the Curaçao Security Service (in Dutch: “Veiligheidsdienst Curaçao”, aka VDC).
The VDC filed a police report against P., the suspected head of service, for violating professional secrecy. From wiretapped phone data it is apparent that P. borrowed money from Jamaloodin, who has meanwhile been appointed Minister of Finance. In exchange for that, the Minister could obtain information about persons from P.
Prime Minister Schotte wants the suspended employee to return back to work at the VDC. The VDC’s oversight committee blocks that.
The hot issue is the mandatory screening that Schotte and his administration resist. Gumbs, director of the VDC, wants to continue the investigation, against Schotte’s will.
On October 27th 2010, the VDC writes an internal memo [.pdf; mirror] with a long list of incriminating information about Schotte and a number of his Ministers: among others, the Prime Minister is involved in dubious financial businesses, and has debts. It is clear that the majority of the Curaçao government ministers could never have been appointed if that screening was completed prior to their appointment.
On that same day, the government denies Gumbs access to the buildings of the VDC, which later fires Gumbs because he would be unsuitable to lead the service. In February 2015, the court of Curaçao ruled that Gumbs has been “intentionally damaged”: there is nothing, according to the judge, that he is unsuitable or incompetent to lead the security service.
After Gumbs left, the government appointed a new director for the VDC. In October 2011, under his regime, something remarkable happens. The network operator of the security service provides a detailed testimony about this before the Curaçao Ombudsman.
He says that in the beginning of October, he had to tell a number of ‘Columbians’ how the VDC’s information was protected. Commissioned by the Prime Minister, he was told by his supervisors. A few weeks later, the network operator had to provide the passwords of the system, after which all data present could be copied and changed; not just of the VDC, but also data exchanged with the Dutch general intelligence & security service AIVD and the American DEA and FBI.
Dutch MP Ronald van Raak says it might constitute the largest data theft ever concerning a secret service. Multiple sources confirm that the copied data has ended up in the hands of criminals. Data also allegedly was erased, for instance to make possible a positive screening of future politicians, according to Van Raak.
Van Raak finds that the Netherlands must intervene. ‘My request to Minister of the Interior, Ronald Plasterk, is: do something about it.’
Gerrit Schotte (40) was the first Prime Minister of the country of Curaçao, from October 10th 2011 to September 29th 2012. He is suspected of having accepted 200,000 dollar from Francesco Corallo — who owns a lot of casinos in the Caribbean area and is considered to belong to the Italian maffia — in exchange for influence on the island and promoting the interest of his casino business. The Public Prosecution Service of Curaçao stated this on Friday, in the first hearing in the criminal case against the former Prime Minister. Schotte and his wife are also suspected of money laundering and forgery. The court case will take place in September. The current Prime Minister, Ivar Asjes, who is associated with the political party of Helmin Wiels (who was murdered in 2013), makes little hurry in cleaning things up in Curaçao.
In response to questions from Van Raak, Plasterk states that not the Netherlands, but Curaçao itself is responsible for the course of events at the VDC. “I cannot confirm that information of the AIVD is stolen, copied, or erased. I cannot make public statements about how the AIVD and VDC cooperate. The country of Curaçao has its own oversight committee concerning the VDC. It is up to the government of Curaçao and the parliament of Curaçao to oversee the course of events.”
According to intelligence services expert Constant Hijzen (Leiden University), a reorganization of a security service is a sensitive moment: in this case on October 10th 2010, when the service changed from an Antillian security service into a Curaçao security service. “In such a phase, the question is who should be in charge, who determines what activities to carry out, what mandate the services get, and how they are supervised. And to what extent politics may influence personnel policy, how transparent the procedures are, and how checks it.”
Intelligence services do not give insight into the data they exchange, and thus the damage of data theft is difficult to determine. “As a rule of thumb, the services make an estimation of the reliability of parties they cooperate with. I suspect that the AIVD has not exchanged lots of data with the VDC; it will rather be specific information in certain joint operations”
The topic is scheduled for the Dutch parliamentary agenda of March 31st.