The privatisation of the former Dutch local government property development arm Bouwfonds in 2000 involved secret information about other bids being passed to the eventual buyer ABN Amro, the Volkskrant reports on Wednesday.
The paper claims Bouwfonds staff leaked documents to ABN Amro CEO Rijkman Groenink. These included confidential details about a bid by ING, allowing ABN Amro to trump the offer.
The dirty tricks cost local authorities tens of millions of euros, the paper says.
The paper bases its claims on documents and interviews with sources involved in the takeover. It claims the driving force behind the leak was Cees H, then the head of Bouwfonds, who is currently under investigation in one of the country’s biggest ever fraud cases.
Two weeks after the leak, Bouwfonds and ABN Amro announced that the deal had been completed, that no other bidders had come forward and that the takeover price was 2.675 billion guilders This was 75 million guilders below the ING offer.
The paper says a number of local councils had concerns about the way the sale was being conducted but were persuaded to accept the ABN Amro offer after accounts group PricewaterhouseCoopers said there were no other interested parties.
Bouwfonds was set up after the Second World War to help ‘ordinary people’ buy their own home. In the six years that ABN Amro was owner it earned some €2.5bn from dividing up and selling on the former state-owned company, the paper says.