The US and Dutch authorities have been caught up in a 13-year-long extradition stalemate according to confidential US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks. The cables published by Wikileaks in 2005 show the Netherlands refused to extradite Dutch businessman Frerik Pluimers to the United States, where he is wanted on bribery charges.
The Dutch foreign minister at the time Ben Bot had asked the US to withdraw its extradition request. Washington refused, and the Netherlands eventually rejected the request in 2008.
US authorities accuse Mr Pluimers of approving bribery payments to Panamanian officials in 1995. Their permission was needed to move the offices of his company, Saybolt International, to a new location in one of the Panama Canal’s free-trade zones. The payments, made from the Netherlands, were approved under the name ‘Capo Grande Holanda’, which insiders say refers to Mr Pluimers.
His business partner at the time, David Mead, was sentenced to four months in prison and fined 20,000 US dollars.
In 2003, the Council of State, the Netherlands’ highest administrative court, approved Mr Pluimers’ extradition. However, the US diplomatic cables show that then minister of justice Piet Hein Donner decided against the extradition because of “the opposition of other members of the cabinet.” A spokesperson for the Dutch justice ministry has confirmed that the extradition request was rejected on 23 June 2008, stating: “The personal circumstances of Pluimers were such that the minister saw fit to refuse the request.”
A spokesperson for the US Justice Department said that the US was not going to let the matter rest, stating “The Dutch government’s rejection of our request does not affect the validity of the underlying case, or our options to request the extradition of the accused from other countries.” Although Mr Pluimers is accused of bribery, the case originated as an environment offence according to the New York Times.
US diplomats say that Mr Pluimers “enjoyed great respect in the Dutch diplomatic and business community.”
This article was published by Radio Netherlands Worldwide on July 11, 2011.
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