Belgium to demand 500 mln euros from bailed-out banks

12th October 2009, Comments 0 comments

Belgium is set to demand at least 500 million euros (735 million dollars) from its bailed-out banks in a bid to claw back money handed out in the depths of the financial crisis, ministers said Sunday.

BRUSSELS - "Now let the banks pay for the crisis that they have caused," Deputy Prime Minister Laurette Onkelinx told a conference of her socialist party.

"That can't just be symbolic. The figure of 500 million euros has been mentioned. For us, that is a minimum," she said.

Development Cooperation Minister Charles Michel also warned banks they would face demands to pay back large sums.

"We won't be happy with just several hundred million euros," he told public television channel RTBF, echoing his colleague's remark that "500 million is a minimum."

Following the collapse of the bank Lehman Brothers in September 2008, Belgium used state money to rescue Belgian-Dutch bank-insurer Fortis, Franco-Belgian bank Dexia, Belgian bank KBC, and Belgian bank-insurer Ethias.

The government injected tens of millions of dollars into the ailing financial institutions and made major guarantees to the public, moves which caused the country's deficit to inflate.

Neither minister gave details on Sunday about the way the money would be handed back, or over what period.

Belgian news agency Belga reported the money to be paid back would form part of the 2010 budget, which the government is currently preparing.


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