squatted since feb2001
Social revolution at street level
24th July 2006
The complaint that the old and new owners of Pretoriusstraat 28 made against the BIBOB-motivated withdrawal of a building permit has been rejected by the city district council. In this way an attempt to keep the house (and its associated network of speculation en black money) out of the glare of publicity - by use of a sort of 'straw-man' construction - has failed.
In January 2006 the Amsterdam city district council Oost/Watergraafsmeer withdrew a building permit for the house Pretoriusstraat 28 on the basis of the law BIBOB. This was the first time a city council had applied this law to a building permit. Specifically, there were strong doubts about the integrity of the owner Joseph Cyrus McCarthy (see also the connected report from SPOK, 'Waar Rook Is...'); McCarthy had furthermore refused to co-operate in the enquiry launched by the city district council. The house was the object of a number of financial claims by McCarthy's creditors, amongst others a juridical seizure order from the tax service in connection with McCarthy's 2005 activities in the illegal labour market.
Following this seizure order McCarthy simply stopped paying his mortgage, and as a consequence of this default the bank decided that the house would be sold at public auction in February 2006. The house, however, never made it to public auction: the house was purchased before the auction by "new" owners, no less than the business partners of McCarthy's bookholder. After this purchase the "old" and the "new" owners lodged a complaint at the city district council against the decision to withdraw the building permit.
At a sitting of the complaints commission in April 2006 the owners and the residents of the house got an opportunity to elaborate upon their sides of the story. McCarthy argued that everything was based on misunderstandings. The new owners Pepijn Koch, Robert Leon Segaar, Gerardus Albertus Van de Laar and Antonius Klomp indicated via their lawyer that they had nothing to do with McCarthy. The residents of the house, however, could demonstrate that the "old" and "new" owners knew each other via McCarthy's former bookholder Johannes Van den Elshout (of bookholding business Pro Genius), and that they all stood in various business relations with teach other. Pepijn Koch is moreover (via his business Koch holding BV) the director of the accountancy firm NBC Van Roemburg and partners, that has taken care of McCarthy's financial books since mid-2005.
On the 23rd June 2006 the complaints commission responded with a rather unambiguous decision: that the permit must stay withdrawn because the basis for the withdrawal is still valid. The opposite advice would after all have meant that the selling and buying of such houses within closed circles could become a simple mechanism for people to escape the law BIBOB, and would also assist the practice of using straw-man constructions. The commission further commented that "Segaar is free to request a new building permit" (approx. translation) and "that the commission assumes that the city district council will pay attention to the question of whether a new BIBOB-test is required." (approx. translation)
At the end of April 2006 the new owners had already submitted a new building permit request, using precisely the same building plans as from the withdrawn building permit. As a reaction to this the residents of Pretoriusstraat 28 provided the city district councillors with information, and spoke at a meeting of the housing commission, to give the (partly new) members of the city district council a good overview of the history of the house and the network surrounding the new owners. During that meeting of the housing commission the cabinet of the city district council announced that it would "stay actively involving itself in the situation around Pretoriusstraat 28." (approx. translation.)