NETHERLANDS - The representative body of the Dutch harbour workers (SBPVH) has today launched a lawsuit against the board of Optas through a court in The Hague.

It is the next step in the ongoing dispute over the proceeds of Optas’ sale to Aegon, which was heard on January 15. No judgement has been passed so far.

Ton Jansen, chairman of the representative body, told IPE his organisation has asked the court in The Hague today to replace Pierre Vinken, the former Elsevier chief, Sjeng Kremers, a former governor of the Dutch province Limburg, Paul Ribourdouille, former vice-chairman at ABN Amro, Halder Holdings’ founder Paul Deiters and notary Steven Perrick of the law firm Freshfields with an interim management team.

SBPVH has accused the managers of the harbour pension fund Stichting Optas of mismanagement.

The statutes were changed under their responsibility, and this resulted in a large part of the money from the pension fund being made available for social and cultural goals rather than pensions.

A new interim management would restore the statues back to how they were on 1 January 1998, according to the SBPVH.

The Optas managment said in a statement today: “For one and a half years we have been targeted with imputations and false allegations. It is therefore good that the court  will now finally take a critical look. We are happy about the move.”

Dutch financial service provider Aegon January argued in January that a solution could not be reached, as the question of who is to blame for the Optas affair has not been raised legally.

Aegon claimed the case has been misrepresented and officials said they believe it is foolhardy to think a judge would be able to pass clear judgement on the affair.

“We protest against Aegon’s annual account for 2007, in which restricted equity of €768m is mentioned; we argue this figure should be €1.7bn,” said Jansen, who is adamant that as far as Aegon is concerned the affair can be solved with the current procedure regarding the annual accounts.

Optas recently offered to pay €350m of the €1.3bn in sale proceeds to improve the pensions of port workers, though the SBPVH board declined the offer.

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