Inquiry into 2008 financial crisis

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The second part of a parliamentary inquiry into the financial crisis of 2008 is getting underway in The Hague

Over the next five weeks, senior government and banking officials will be heard, including former Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and his Finance Minister Wouter Bos.

Interest in the inquiry has been heightened because of its relevance to the current euro crisis. The Netherlands has committed more than four and a half billion euro’s in loans for Greece, and is being asked to guarantee 98 billion euro’s for the European Financial Stability Facility Fund.

The de Wit inquiry, named after its chairman Socialist Party MP Jan de Wit, is charged with looking into measures taken by the Dutch government in 2008 to help shore up the Dutch banking sector. Those measures included an almost 17 billion euro takeover of ABN Amro bank and part of Fortis Bank. A 200 billion euro fund was created to guarantee bank loans - 50 billion of which was actually used.

Bad mortgages held by the ING bank were guaranteed to the tune of 22 billion euro’s and another 20 billion euro’s was made available to ING and two other banks.

The current Dutch inquiry concerns measures taken by the government, witnesses are being heard under oath and are therefore subject to prosecution if they are found to be lying.

This is actually the second part of the Dutch committee’s inquiry. The first part, looking into the causes of the credit crisis, was completed last year.

The chance that the investigation will lead to any resignations from the current cabinet is small. However, the last time parliament conducted an official inquiry was in 2002, looking into the Dutch role in the Srebrenica massacre. That inquiry lead to the collapse of Prime Minister Wim Kok’s government.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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