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Fortis under investigation

Published on 29/10/2008

The judicial authorities in Brussels have launched an investigation into whether Fortis misled or deliberately held back information from its shareholders during the company's recent fall from grace.

The judicial authorities launched a preliminary investigation based on their own suspicions two weeks ago.

However, they have now received a formal complaint.

According to the financial daily De Tijd, it’s someone from within Fortis who has blown the whistle on their own company.

The man in question is reported to be very well-informed and has emails from former Fortis executives that prove how the bank and insurance giant’s board misled the outside world in the year before the Belgian, Dutch and Luxembourg governments were forced to bail it out.

Fortis is alleged to have supplied shareholders with incorrect information about the group’s financial health.

An examining magistrate has now been appointed to investigate the claims.

The Brussels judicial authority’s spokesman Jos Colpin told VRT television that “it’s alleged that incorrect information about Fortis’ solvency and market liquidity was spread in order to manipulate the market during September and October of last year.”

Mr Colpin added that the former bosses at Fortis can expect to be called in for questioning.

"The government should also be a plaintiff”

The Flemish socialist MP and former minister Renaat Landuyt is pleased that the judicial authorities have launched an investigation into Fortis.

However, he added that the Federal Government ought to be a plaintiff in the case.

"If there is any question of dishonesty, then Fortis is responsible for the losses sustained by thousands of Belgians."

"The Prime Minister will get the chance to turn his disappointment into action.” Mr Landuyt added.

"This is a unique chance for the government to act as a plaintiff on behalf of us all and demand compensation from those really responsible."