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Dutch political party reports Smit board for 'defrauding' pension fund

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  • Dutch political party reports Smit board for 'defrauding' pension fund

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NETHERLANDS - 50PLUS, a new Dutch political party for the elderly, has reported three board members at maritime services company Smit Internationale to the public prosecutor for defrauding its own pension fund.

The party claimed that, between 1986 and 1992, the employer extracted approximately €25m from its pension fund, while ignoring its contractual obligation to plug financial gaps at the scheme.

It said the board members removed this obligation from later contracts and that the employer refrained from paying €25m-35m of regular contributions into the pension fund.

The party said it could prove its case with documents and testimonies from former Smit directors and participants of the pension fund.

Initially, the scheme's participants' council had requested the corporate court in Amsterdam to look into possible irregularities.

However, after dredging company Boskalis - Smit's new owner - had offered €30m to plug the scheme's financial gap, on the condition the legal case be dropped, the participants' council withdrew its request.

However, 50PLUS - formerly known as OokU - said it was unacceptable that the responsible board members remained "out of range" and that the pension fund must now face future benefits cuts.

Kees de Lange, vice-chairman of the party, said: "Because many participants of the Smit scheme have low pensions, Boskalis's offer amounted to blackmailing cornered people."

In his opinion, the assets owed by Boskalis, including lost interest, is close to €100m.

Until Boskalis's offer, the participants of the €200m Smit scheme were facing an unprecedented benefits cut of 13.2% on 1 January 2011, after its coverage ratio dropped to 83%.

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