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Investigation Uncovers Money Laundering Risks with Independent ATMs in the Netherlands

Independent ATMs not linked to banks are being used for money laundering in the Netherlands, an investigation has revealed. The Dutch television current affairs program Zembla found that these Independent ATMs are unregulated and can be established by anyone.

Investigation Uncovers Money Laundering Risks with Independent ATMs in the Netherlands

The investigation, aired by Dutch broadcaster NOS, uncovered that some Independent ATM owners were willing to assist individuals they believed to be criminals in laundering money and evading taxes. Currently, four companies operate 1,200 "white label," or independent ATMs, across the Netherlands.

These machines can serve various purposes, some of which are legitimate. For instance, a supermarket might use an Independent ATM to deposit cash to avoid bank service charges, as highlighted by the program. However, investigative journalist Sander Rietveld explained the potential for misuse: "But in principle, anyone can fill one up with cash. And criminals have wads of cash and they have to do something with it."

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Rietveld elaborated on the method, stating, "They can’t just hand over a bag of money to buy a sports car or a villa. So they use the ATMs." He shared that the program approached several Independent ATM owners while posing as potential clients. "[We] said we wanted to launder money and that we had a criminal record," Rietveld noted. "We found some of them to be very cooperative, even going so far as to give us tips on how to go about it and evade detection by the tax office."

The lack of a register for Independent ATMs in the Netherlands makes it difficult to determine ownership and usage of these machines. In September 2023, NOS revealed the existence of at least 10 fraudulent ATMs operated by criminals in The Hague. These machines had 'cash traps' installed, causing money to become stuck after being dispensed. While the legitimate user could not retrieve the money, a criminal would later remove the 'cash trap' and take the cash.

Dutch police labeled this a "new form of scam" and encouraged people to contact authorities if they had suspicions about ATMs. Following the recent NOS report on the issue of Independent ATM money laundering, the Dutch finance ministry announced plans to engage with the financial sector to develop a solution.



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