Two former directors of the Limburg housing association Vitaal Wonen were sentenced on Wednesday by the Limburg District Court to imprisonment and community service for having “strangely” stolen large amounts from the corporation.
Noël P. (44) was sentenced to fifteen months in prison, of which five months suspended, for forgery and embezzlement. The court also imposed a prohibition on him for a period of five years. Jos P. (77) has been sentenced to 10 months ‘suspended sentence and 80 hours’ imprisonment due to forgery.
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Noël P. darkened nearly four tons between 2005 and 2010, according to the court. He paid himself more salary than permitted, passed on money to – his father – Jos P., had the housing foundation pay costs for a private company and paid money for private expenses. Jos P. submitted two tons of fake bills to Vitaal Wonen in 2009 and 2010 for advisory work he had never done.
The punishment for Noël P. is more severe than the demand of the public prosecutor. He asked for 15 months in jail (of which five conditionally). In addition, the court prohibits a director’s position at a public housing institute for the next five years. The court: “The defendant had an exemplary role as director of a housing association. With his far-reaching cross-border behavior, he has damaged society’s trust in housing associations. ”
For father Jos P. the punishment was lower than the requirement of one year in jail (of which six months conditional) because of his high age and the long duration of the investigation. “Nor does the initiative seem to have been with him,” the court said.
Not present at ruling
Both suspects were not present at the verdict. The eclipse came to light in 2012, via a message in NRC about the self-enrichment by director Noël P. He was dismissed, after which a study commissioned by the corporation made it clear that he and his father had used Vitaal Wonen for years “as a vehicle to enrich themselves and allow others to get used.”
Vitaal Wonen, with 304 rental homes one of the smallest corporations in the Netherlands, ran into financial problems due to the affair. The corporation had to postpone maintenance and renovations and increase rents. To get out of trouble, a merger followed in 2015 with corporation ZOwonen in Sittard.
In 2017, the court in Maastricht sentenced Noël P. and his father in civil proceedings brought by ZOwonen. The duo had to repay 1.1 million euros (including the statutory interest). The corporation has been investigating the possibilities for collecting this amount for three years.
When asked, Noël P. says he is in conversation with ZOwonen about a settlement in his civil case. “I am just starting, let that be clear. If we do not reach a settlement, I will appeal. Then it will take a very long time. ”