WILLEMSTAD – The Public Prosecution (OM) accuses KPMG of having facilitated a company on the island, banking at ING and suspected of laundering $ 322 million in the period from 2004 to 2014, in criminal activities. Venezuelan clients bought credit cards for years with the Curaçao company (lingerie and medicines), but they were given US dollars, on payment of a commission.
The settlement with KPMG was announced on Tuesday night by the public prosecutor of the Public Prosecutor General’s Office in Curaçao. According to the OM, KPMG prepared the annual accounts for the company from 2004 to 2009, but the auditors never checked the submitted data. In addition, KPMG is accused of never reporting the company’s sizeable “dollar activities” in the annual accounts, while the auditor was aware of it. Nor did KPMG ever insist that the company mention the stealthy “dollar washing” in their annual reports. KPMG was thus guilty of “co-perpetrating forgery of documents” and complicity in “making incorrect tax returns.” The prosecution states that KPMG “has seriously neglected its gatekeeper function in this way”, which in turn means that the company has not paid taxes on more than 1 million euro.
The money laundering of the company in question, the Caribbean Distributors Group (CDG), together with similar shadowy activities of three other ING bank customers, led the OM in 2016 to open the criminal investigation ‘Houston’, to negligent acts of the bank. ING never saw anything suspicious about the hundreds of millions of dollars that ran through their client CDG bank account. Last September, ING prosecuted criminal proceedings in this case for 775 million euros; the most expensive settlement ever agreed in the Netherlands.
The OM explains why KPMG gets away with a fine of 38,000 euros. The OM stated that the culpable acts “date from years ago”, that KPMG auditors have investigated the issue in 2009 themselves and gave full cooperation to the criminal investigation. Moreover, the direct managers “have not been working for the KPMG organization for a long time.”
In addition to the fine of 38,000 euros, the OM also imposes a conditional fine of 88,000 euros on KPMG. Should the auditors commit criminal offenses for the next two years, they must still pay this amount.
The Caribbean branch of KPMG was taken over by competitor EY at the beginning of this month. Since then there has been no KPMG branch in Curaçao.