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    Shareholders seek to hold Fortis chiefs liable for their losses

    AFP
    31.10.2008 - 13:22 | Son Güncelleme:

    Shareholders in now dismantled and partly nationalized banking group Fortis asked a Dutch court on Friday for relief against top executives who, they allege, kept quiet as the company bled 44 billion euros ($57 billion) in 18 months.

    Members of the Dutch Shareholders Association (VEB) asked a companies tribunal in Amsterdam to launch a probe into the management of the formerly Belgian-Dutch banking and insurance company and its subsequent part nationalization.

    "Fortis structurally and deliberately withheld relevant information from shareholders," argued VEB lawyer Jerry Hoff.

    The aggrieved group claims that through bad management, Fortis heads hastened the banks downfall and caused its share value to plummet by 44 billion euros in 18 months.

    The VEB also accused the Dutch state of forcing the nationalization of the Netherlands-based assets of Fortis, causing its shareholders further losses.

    "The state saw a chance to buy Fortis for a song," said Hoff.

    The tribunal will hear the arguments of different parties Friday before deciding whether or not to order an investigation by the prosecuting authority, which could result in a lawsuit.

    Hard hit by the global financial crisis, Fortis was dismantled earlier this month, with its Dutch assets nationalized by the Netherlands government for 16.8 billion euros, and its Belgian and Luxembourg activities sold to French bank BNP Paribas.

     

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