Report into SNS nationalisation slams central bank, finance ministry

The official report into the nationalisation of financial services group SNS early last year is highly critical of both the central bank and the finance ministry.

SNS was nationalised after getting into serious financial trouble through its property finance division which it bought from ABN Amro.

Thursday’s report says the central bank should never have approved the purchase, arguing that the bank was too reliant on SNS’s own risk evaluations.

Cocktail

‘There is no doubt that the purchase of Property Finance and Zwitserleven was a poisonous cocktail which ultimately led to the bank’s downfall,’ Rein Jan Hoekstra from the evaluation commission told reporters.

In addition, the central bank was aware Property Finance had clients with links to senior underworld figures, the report states. In particular, SNS acquired seven ‘dubious’ clients from ABN Amro, who had loans totalling €160m, Nos television quotes the report as saying.

The report also states SNS should have used the state bail-out of €750m it was given at the end of 2008 to clean out the company and get it on the right track.

However, the supervisory board members appointed by the finance minister were unable to effectively guarantee the public interest, the report says.

Nationalisation

The report concludes that the government had no choice other than to nationalise the bank after it appeared to be on the verge of collapse in January 2013. Failure to intervene would have cost society far more than the €3.7bn bill for the nationalisation, the report states.

It remains to be seen whether the report bolsters claims by shareholders who want compensation for the loss of their investments.

It is also unclear whether it will make it easier to take legal action against the SNS executives and government officials who failed to do their jobs properly, Nos television says.


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