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The bibob investigation

If you apply for a licence or government subsidy or enter into a property transaction with the government, it is possible that you will be subjected to a bibob investigation. A bibob investigation may be conducted even if you already hold a licence (LINK).

The investigation and, in particular, the information you are required to provide, is largely the same throughout the country. This is because a bibob investigation begins with the completion of a bibob questionnaire. Although not every administrative body carries out the screening in the same manner, there is a regulation on bibob forms (EXTERNAL LINK: that lays down which questions may be asked and what information may be requested, depending on the type of licence, order or transaction, in the context of which the investigation is conducted. An administrative body may ask fewer questions, not more. They can also draw up their own questionnaire, as long as they conform to the questions that follow from the regulation.

Many administrative bodies use the questionnaires that are provided by the National Bibob Bureau (NBB). The questions in these forms often form the starting point of the bibob investigation. Information is requested from the applicant for the licence, who/that may be a natural person or an enterprise. The investigation also aims to establish whether there is any risk in granting the licence, allocating the subsidy or concluding the transaction. This is why questions are asked, for example, about previous judicial contacts of the (legal) entities involved in the application or transaction. Involvement with other legal entities may also be requested, along with several financial details.

It will be checked whether there are any debts for example, and clarity must also exist concerning the financing of all of the above. For example, if you are applying for a building licence, you must provide clarifications concerning the financing of the building plan.

On the basis of the above information, the administrative body shall investigate whether there is any risk of the b-ground - namely that the licence or decision or transaction will be used to commit criminal offences. This may happen if the applicant is 'related to criminal offences'. This may apply in case the applicant himself has had contact with the judicial authorities at any point of time, but also if another concerned person has had a brush with the law. For example, in the capacity of a shareholder, director, etc. It is not only about convictions; such a risk can also be deduced from suspicions or previous administrative intervention.

It is also investigated whether there is a risk that the licence, transaction or decision will be used to exploit the advantages obtained or to be obtained from criminal offences, the a-ground. This is the principal reason why the bibob investigation also requires clarity concerning the finances. By examining the financial flows, it is verified for example that no 'tainted money' is used to finance a licence application.

If the answers to the questions still leave room for doubt, the administrative body may ask further questions in order to enable it to conduct the bibob investigation in the required manner. It frequently happens for example, that with regard to the question about the financing, the applicant replies that the financing is from a third-party loan, and although the loan agreement is also attached as an annex, there are no documents to provide clarity on how the third party obtained the loaned capital. In such case, the administrative body can ask further questions in order to gain a good understanding of the money flows.

The administrative body then often conducts its own investigation based on the aforementioned information. The administrative body may also send the application to the National Bibob Bureau and request its advice. Some administrative bodies do this almost as a standard procedure and also fairly quickly. Other administrative bodies only do this in case there is doubt about the accuracy of the data provided, for example, or when there are indications that make a more thorough investigation appear necessary. The NBB may consult more sources than, for example, a municipality. The NBB may also ask further questions in order to enable it to conduct the investigation in the required manner.

After completing the bibob investigation, the conclusion thereof is included in the decision-making process. If the conclusion drawn is that there is no risk, then the bibob investigation obviously will not prevent the granting of a licence, the allocation of a subsidy or the conclusion of a property transaction.

If a risk is identified, the consequences depend on the degree of risk. In case of a lesser degree of risk, a licence may be made subject to additional conditions with a view to containing such risk. In case of serious risk however, the application may be denied. However, it is also possible that, in the event of serious risk, a licence is granted subject to conditions.

The person involved must be provided the opportunity to submit his opinion in case there is a negative bibob advice, to the effect that there is some risk with consequences. It may also be the case that this conclusion that there is a risk may be based on information about a third party, such as a financier. Such third party must also be provided the opportunity to submit its opinion.

We regularly assist (INTERNAL LINK to our assistance) with bibob investigations. This is also to prevent mistakes being made during the investigation, which could have serious negative consequences later on (LINK: the pitfalls). We can also assist you if you are provided the opportunity to submit an opinion in response to a negative advice, whether as an applicant or as a 'third party'.