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ABP and PGGM to sue regulator on fines

THE NETHERLANDS - The two largest Dutch pension funds ABP and PGGM will sue regulator De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), because of the fines imposed on them for ‘illegally' promoting their subsidiary companies, the schemes have confirmed.

The €201bn civil service scheme ABP and the €77bn healthcare scheme PGGM want clarity over the limits to the communication with their members on commercial activities.

Last year, watchdog DNB issued fines, because in its opinion both schemes had linked themselves too clearly to their independent subsidiaries, which sell the new tax-friendly levensloop, or ‘life course' schemes.

This happened after a complaint from the Dutch Association of Insurers , the VvV, as the organisation considered the schemes' activities were unfair competition.

ABP and PGGM have now confirmed they have been fined €900,000 and €1.3m for two and three contraventions respectively. "The fine is unreasonable and excessively high," the daily Het Financieele Dagblad quoted PGGM board member Rene van de Kieft as commenting.

DNB's interpretation of the rules are too strict, both pension funds indicated. "PGGM has been fined for allowing our subsidiary Careon to advertise in our members' magazine, and our website mentioning Careon's existence," spokeswoman Ellen Habermehl explained.

"Moreover, the DNB says we haven't taken enough care to keep our logos apart. But we think we don't have to deny the link between PGGM  and its subsidiary."

"Our fine was also based on our communication with our members. We are allowed to have our levensloop-selling subsidiary Loyalis, but it is apparently forbidden to mention it," ABP spokesman Hans ten Brinke added.

ABP as well as PGGM insist that they have never approached any of their 2m plus members with personal mailings. Both schemes have not paid the fines yet and are not prepared to do so either, they indicated.

The regulator DNB refuses to comment on the case. A court hearing will be on 15 February in Rotterdam.

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