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Bank experts slam Belgian big three

Published on 16/04/2009

In February a parliamentary commission began to examine what happened in the Belgian banking sector as the global financial crisis hit home.

The commission organised hearings with economists, politicians and leading former and current bankers in Belgium.

Together with a number of financial experts the parliamentary commission has now issued a preliminary report.

The report states that Fortis, Dexia and Ethias – three of the country’s top banks and insurers that experienced difficulties – created problems for themselves.

In a document of 330 pages a picture is painted of the background to the crisis, its causes and subsequent government action.

The report alleges that leading figures at Fortis ignored internal alarm signals and that both Dexia and the insurer Ethias were poorly organised.

For many weeks the companies made sure that the financial watchdog CBFA was unaware of any liquidity problems.

The banks are also accused of seeking excessive profits and poor internal and external communication.

The parliamentary report only lists findings and does not yet make any recommendations.

The commission will discuss possible recommendations next week.

The definitive report will be presented to a joint session of the two houses of the Belgian Parliament on 29 April.