Central bank, financial sector under fire in economic crisis report

The financial sector in the Netherlands ‘took unacceptable risks, and lost sight of the public interest,’ the leader of a parliamentary inquiry into the economic crisis told reporters on Monday.

Speaking at the publication of the inquiry report, Socialist MP and inquiry chairman Jan de Wit criticised the main players for carrying on as if it was ‘business as usual’.
‘What stood out most of all is the lack of critical self reflection’, De Wit said. And, he said, he was disappointed that the urgency for reform was fading. The causes of the crisis have not disappeared and could lead to a new crisis with even more serious effects, De Wit said.
Banks, regulators, shareholders, savers, politicians, ministers, accountants and credit agencies all come under fire in the report.
ABN Amro
The report says the nationalisation of ABN Amro bank would have been unnecessary if the central bank and then finance minister Wouter Bos had refused to give the all-clear to the bank’s takeover by a consortium because of the risk to the stability of the Dutch financial system.
The central bank could also have placed more stringent conditions on Icelandic bank Landsbanki when it entered the Dutch market with Icesave, the report said.
De Wit said he would not judge the role of central bank president Nout Wellink, saying ‘this inquiry is not a tribunal and we are not here to make heads roll. ‘But it is clear that we see shortcomings at the central bank,’ the Financieele Dagblad reported him as saying.


The inquiry was set up in 2009 against a background of political frustration about the crisis, which began in 2007.
The crisis led to the state being forced to nationalise ABN Amro and Fortis banks and make loans of almost €14bn to ING, Aegon and SNS Reaal.
Commission members questioned over 40 bankers, financial service sector regulators, politicians and academics in January and February.
The report is unlikely to have much in the way of political ramifications because the cabinet has already collapsed and the then-finance minister Wouter Bos has quit politics. Central bank president Nout Wellink will also step down next year, Nos says.

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