Expatica news

Ex-Ahold boss loses court summons challenge

13 October 2004

AMSTERDAM — Amsterdam Court dismissed on Wednesday a challenge by former Ahold boss Cees van der Hoeven to a court summons, effectively ordering him to stand trial for the Dutch retailer’s accountancy scandal last year.

The court was to outline the case against Van der Hoeven and former Ahold chief financial officer Michiel Meurs on Wednesday and Thursday.  Former board member Jan Andreae and former commissioner Robert Fahlin also face charges.

But only Van der Hoeven and Andreae attended the court proceedings on Wednesday, newspaper De Volkskrant reported.

During the notice of objection — which took place behind closed doors — lawyers representing Van der Hoeven claimed that they had been hindered in preparing the defence case. The court dismissed the objection.

The Ahold case is the first time that directors of a multinational company have been summoned to appear in a Dutch court over an accountancy fraud.

It emerged at the start of last year that Ahold overstated its profits by EUR 1 billion and Van der Hoeven is accused of illegally including 100 percent of the earnings of joint ventures with other companies in the Ahold accounts, inflating the Dutch retailer’s profits.

He has previously denied any wrongdoing. “The charges by the public prosecutor are unfounded and I will make that clear to the court,” he was quoted saying last month.

Ahold announced on 30 September that it would pay EUR 8 million in a settlement agreed with the Dutch public prosecutor. In turn, the prosecutor agreed not to institute proceedings against the company for improper use of documents.

But Ahold still faces shareholder lawsuits and a Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry in the US.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news