NETHERLANDS - The €1.4bn pension fund for Dutch dentists (SPT) has commissioned an investigation into why it has failed to reclaim what it considered to be "illegally obtained" pension assets from a former director.

The board at SPT has argued that an accountants' survey in 2003 showed that a former director of the fund's bureau had awarded himself "liberal and illegal" increases to both his salary and his pension rights.

This happened between 1983 and 2003, when the director was sacked, according to an SPT spokesman, who added that the total costs for the pension fund had risen to more than €2m.

However, another spokesman for the scheme claimed the "illegally obtained" assets had in fact been relatively small and already been paid back. He said the costs had risen because the board wanted to reclaim its legal expenses and investigation costs.

Recently, the court ruled in favour of the former director, who had refused to repay all the disputed pension assets as demanded by SPT. The court also ruled the pension scheme must award him extra pension rights.

The pension fund's board, pointing out that it inherited the case from a previous board, stressed that it was financing the investigation at the request of the occupational association for dentists BPVT.

At the start of November, the closed pension fund announced a benefits cut of at least 9% to recover from a funding shortfall, attributing the discount to new longevity predictions that caused its coverage ratio to drop to 88%.

The scheme's board was unavailable for comment.