‘Ik ken Frans Bakker eigenlijk niet zo goed’ (I really don’t know Frans Bakker that well)
Politician Richard de Mos (Groep de Mos/Ouderenpartij Den Haag), after his ‘save the Pier rescue operation – partner’ Frans Bakker was accused of being a fraud.
A fishy case
Frans Bakker, entrepreneur from Amersfoort, is all over the news. Last year he started a rescue operation to save ‘De Scheveningse Pier’. Through crowd funding he wanted to gather enough money to save the icon of the Dutch coast. Bakker was joined by Hague politician Richard de Mos (Groep de Mos/Ouderenpartij Den Haag). But now Bakker is accused of being a fraud.
Frans Bakker en Richard de Mos (Foto: Den Haag Direct)
Two Dutch newspapers claim there are serious reasons to doubt Bakker’s motives. According to Dagblad van het Noorden (Newspaper for the North of Holland), Bakker has left a trail of bankruptcies and victims in the Northern part of the Netherlands. Between 1996 and 2013 ten companies and foundations led by Bakker went bankrupt. His victims call him a ‘sluwe meesteroplichter’ (a cunning swindler).
Politician Richard de Mos, who became his partner in the rescue operation, now also expresses his doubts about the integrity of Bakker. ‘Ik ken Frans Bakker eigenlijk niet zo goed.’ (I really don’t know Frans Bakker that well) he told RTV West Wednesday morning.
In the meantime the public has donated 145.274 euro to Bakker’s property manager. De Mos says he is shocked after everything he read in the newspaper. He calls all contributors to report themselves and to file charges against Bakker when they don’t get a refund.
Frans Bakker is furious and denies all accusations. ‘Ik ben geen oplichter! (I am not a swindler!) he told RTV West. ‘Als ik een boef zou zijn, doe ik andere dingen’ (If I was a crook, I would do different things). He claims he is an honest entrepreneur and that there hasn’t been a single charge against him.
Bakker also claims that the journalists never heard his side of the story. According to journalist Mick van Wely from Dagblad van het Noorden, this is just another lie. ‘We talked to Bakker for almost 15 minutes and recorded the whole conversation’.
So, who’s telling the truth? Bakker or the journalist? And what does it say about Richard de Mos that he collaborates with people he doesn’t know that well? After all, he supported Bakker, and called the crowd to donate money.
Anyway, there is something fishy about this rescue operation. And it’s not because De Pier is close to the Scheveningse fish market. To make matters even shadier, Bakker says he already refunded 120.000 euro, because some donators needed the money back really badly. He quickly adds he’s in contact with another big sponsor. Bakker cannot say anything about the identity of this person, besides that he’s Italian.
Bakker says he will wait until 1 June, and then he will pay everything back. He promises…
A (very) short history of De Scheveningse Pier
The first version of De Pier in Scheveningen was opened in 1901. It was a promenade for seaside visitors with a platform for shops and a restaurant. It was captured by the Germans in World War II, and used for storage and as a place for anti-aircraft guns. At the end of the war De Pier was destroyed by the Germans, so it could not be used by the Allied Forces.
De Pier as we know it today (located more to the North than the first one) was opened for public in 1961. This Pier was bigger and there were several attractions for adults and children, and numerous shops and restaurants.
In the first years de Pier was a huge commercial success, but visitor numbers quickly declined. Several new owners and marketing plans couldn’t stop de Pier from going into further decline. The owners couldn’t keep up with the large costs of maintenance.
In 1991 de Pier was bought by restaurant owner Van der Valk for the symbolic amount of one guilder (the Dutch currency before the euro was introduced). Van der Valk invested more than 20 million euro in the restoration process and marketing of de Pier. But it never became as succesful as it had been in the early days.
In 2011 there was a huge fire, and a part of de Pier was closed down. A year later Van der Valk announced to sell de Pier because of the low turnover and the high costs of maintenance. The concrete had decayed and a large number of pillars needed to be renovated. This would cost several millions.
Because of the large amount of overdue maintenance de Pier was declared bankrupt in 2013, and for safety reasons it was closed down ‘for good’ in 2013. The planned auction was cancelled because there were no parties interested in buying.
According to the national government, neither the State, nor the municipality is responsible for the preservation or the demolition of de Pier.
Foto: Omroep West