In 2018, the Dutch government was closely involved in paying the equivalent of 280,000 euros in ransom money to Nigerian pirates who were holding the crew of a Dutch cargo ship hostage. This is evident from an investigation by Dutch newspaper NRC.
A senior Dutch embassy employee secretly took a suitcase full of cash from the Netherlands to the Nigerian capital Abuja. This was kept in the embassy’s safe and later passed on to an intermediary who paid the hijackers.
The FWN Rapide of the Groningen-based shipping company ForestWave was hijacked by Nigerian pirates in the Gulf of Guinea on 21 April 2018. In the process, ten crew members (Ukrainians and Filipinos) and the Russian captain were kidnapped. A month later, after paying USD 340,000 in cash, the entire crew was released.
The Netherlands violated its own official ransom policy and that of the Nigerian government – which prescribes no cooperation with ransom payments. The cash ransom was kept out of court documents about the hijacking.
Attack on the FWN Rapide
The FWN Rapide was attacked by pirates in a large speedboat on 21 April. Most of the crew were kidnapped by the pirates. Initially, it was assumed that twelve of the fourteen crew members were involved, but a day later another crew member was found to be hiding so well that the pirates overlooked him. There were no Dutch nationals among the crew. A few days later, the ship continued its journey with a new crew that had been flown in.
The ship was on its way from Takoradi in Ghana to Onne, near Port Harcourt in Nigeria.