Snippe leaves Philips scheme for 'new challenge'
NETHERLANDS - Jan Snippe has left the €14bn pension fund of electronics giant Philips, where he was head of corporate pensions.
Snippe resigned as a member of the management board of the Philips' scheme in March 2008, after large property transactions - that he and other board members had approved - were investigated for fraud.
However, he then stayed on as head of the body that supports Philips' worldwide pensions strategy.
According to a spokesman for Philips, Snippe has left the company after indicating he was looking for "a new challenge".
Snippe, 54, had worked for the Philips pension fund since 2003, after leaving property investment firm Nieuwe Steen Investments.
The fraud investigation was in part aimed at the director of the pension fund's property management branch PREIM, as well as the his predecessor at the property company. (See earlier IPE story: Philips fund fraud brings calls for transparency)
Following an internal investigation, Philips has filed a civil case against both former directors, the spokesman said.
He declined to indicate the amount of money which may have been defrauded, but the private properties of both directors were reported to be among €150m of assets seized on behalf of the pension fund in 2008.
The PREIM managers will be prosecuted later this year, a spokeswoman for the public prosecutor has confirmed.
The property directors are among a total of 125 suspects in a nationwide property fraud - involving several real estate developers and brokers - in which up to €200m is thought to have disappeared through opaque transactions.
Property manager PREIM has been liquidated since the fraud was uncovered, as the Philips pension fund decided to convert its entire Dutch direct property portfolio into non-listed indirect real estate.
The suspected fraud at PREIM has not led to any tightening of internal checks and balances at the pension fund, the spokesman explained, as the shift to indirect property has made this irrelevant.
"The scheme had already agreed to the property portfolio change before the public prosecutor started an investigation, albeit after we had initiated an internal investigation into disappointing returns," he added.
That said, the spokesman stressed the Philips pension fund is now keen to apply its existing governance rules to every detail of the scheme.
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