The parliamentary enquiry on fraud in the Dutch construction industry collusion as concept between corruption and state-corporate crime

Grat van den Heuvel*

*Corresponding author for this work

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In December 2002 the final report of the Royal Commission concerning Irregularities in the Dutch Construction Industry was published. The broadcasting of the public hearings in the months before was breaking news. It proved the whole sector participated in illegal practices, ranging from fraud, unjustified subsidies and license issuance to real bribery and money or favours to individual politicians or higher-ranking public servants; from undercutting the market, monopolisation and forcing up prices, to selective control by partial inspectorates. In his article the author, an advisor to the Commission, summarises the mayor types of irregularities the report reveals with special interest in the network dimension they had in common. The Commission spoke about collusion as the key problem. Collusion can be described as secret agreement for a fraudulent or deceitful purpose, especially to defeat the course of law. Theoretically this concept can have many faces. In this parliamentary enquiry it was illustrated in three ways: as anti-trust illegalities, as a kind of governmental crime, and as kind of corruption. The report showed a long-lasting structural interrelation between these three types with a special role for the twining between collusion and corruption. Corruption research often mentions collusion as a cause, condition or explanation of corruption. But rarely is that argument illustrated in detail. This article seeks to do so. Especially when corruption is hard to grasp in modern society, a solution could be to take collusion as 'a network offence' more seriously. The collusion subsystems revealed hereare relatively stable networks, invulnerable to individualised anti-corruption legislation. The author pleads for stricter rules governing state-corporate interrelationships, more severe control on network abuses, and the introduction of minimum standards for public contracting as proposed by Transparency International.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-151
Number of pages19
JournalCrime, Law and Social Change
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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