NETHERLANDS - A former employee of pensions provider AZL has been accused of committing property fraud by accepting bribes.

A spokeswoman for the public prosecutor confirmed that a former manager of Vastgoed Kantoren, AZL's real estate fund, has been accused of taking approximately €1.2m worth of bribes during property transactions.

She said the suspect had been part of a long-running investigation that had been delayed several times following appeals from fellow suspects.

According to the financial daily Het Financieel Dagblad (FD), two directors of property investment company Woudstaete are alleged to have paid the bribes.

The former AZL manager joined their company after he left AZL, the FD added.

Harry Lindelauf, spokesman for AZL, said the former employee was a director at Vastgoed Kantoren only in name, as "this was necessary for operating in the real estate business".

Lindelauf added that the suspect had left AZL in 2003.

AZL said if the legal process revealed that either the company or its clients had been harmed it would take the "necessary legal steps".

It added that the Internal Revenue Service investigated transactions in 2006 in which the former employee had been involved.

"Subsequently," it said, "forensic investigators at Ernst & Young haven't been able to establish whether AZL Vastgoed Kantoren has been aggrieved, but they have confirmed the investigated transactions have complied with internal rules."

AZL's executive board added: "The outcome of the investigation, as well as the lack of forthcoming additional information from the prosecutor, failed to provide us with sufficient traction for legal action."

AZL Vastgoed Kantoren was an investment fund for institutional investors that was liquidated in 2006 and its assets sold to French insurer AXA.

The pension provider was subsequently sold to Dutch bank and insurer ING in 2007.