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Dutch minister satisfied with pension fund-fiduciary manager contracts

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Wouter Koolmees, the Dutch minister for social affairs, has indicated he was satisfied with the current contracts between pension funds and their fiduciary managers.

Answering questions posed by Pieter Omtzigt, MP for the Christian Democrats (CDA), he said the type of contract questioned by the politician was no longer used.

Omtzigt argued that pension funds were hardly able to hold their managers liable for losses caused by fraud, saying the situation was “detrimental” because some asset managers had been involved in “almost any kind of market abuse”. He had hinted that they still concluded secret contracts with pension funds.

He cited nine examples of fraud and market manipulation, including Libor, Euribor and swaps, in which the provider had paid damages or had been convicted.

Koolmees, referring to information provided by the Dutch Pensions Federation and Dufas, the industry body for asset managers, said the disputed contract was no longer in use.

He added that it was anyway impossible to legally exclude damages caused by deliberate action or gross negligence, even under the old contract model.

The minister emphasised that the arrangements in a contract were the responsibility of both players involved.

“I am convinced that pension funds are scrupulous on this. Moreover, the supervisor also pays attention to liability clauses.”

Wouter Koolmees, Dutch social affairs minister

“I am convinced that pension funds are scrupulous on this,” he said. “Moreover, supervisor De Nederlandsche Bank also pays attention to liability clauses.”

Before Koolmees was able to respond to Omtzigt’s questions, a pensions lawyer had told IPE’s Dutch sister publication that the regulator referred pension schemes back to their managers if contracts were not up to scratch.

Addressing other questions posed by Omtzigt, Koolmees said the financial markets watchdog monitored market abuse by asset managers as well as conflicts of interest in the derivatives trade.

In his opinion, a pension fund’s accountability body (VO) should not have the automatic right to examine all contracts, and it was up to a scheme’s board to decide case by case which documents the VO reasonably needed.

“A pension fund could weaken its negotiating position if it releases all its information,” he said.

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