NETHERLANDS - The dispute over the proceeds of Optas' sale to Aegon can be solved with the current court case, according to Ton Jansen, chairman of the representative body of the Dutch harbour workers (SBPVH).

Dutch financial service provider Aegon today argued 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 finds the case has been misrepresented and that 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 account.

Aegon acquired pension insurer Optas in 2007, of which part of the equity is restricted, known as ‘beklemd vermogen' in Dutch.

According to the harbour employees this restricted equity should have been released to supplement their pensions, adding they had made a claim to that effect.

The court case will be heard on January 15 in Amsterdam.

Late last year, the  harbour workers rejected an offer of €350m towards their pensions from insurer Optas Foundation.

Jansen told IPE at the time: "Optas has offered to pay €350m of the €1.3bn proceeds to improve the pensions of port workers."

"Although our board is still considering the Optas offer, it isn't likely that we will accept it, because we don't want to forgo on the remaining €1bn."

Recently, a mediation effort - at the request of Social Affairs' minister Piet Hein Donner - Elco Brinkman, the departing chairman of civil service scheme ABP, failed. Subsequently, the harbour workers and their employers announced they would go to court to solve the row.

Brinkman declined to comment on the new developments, according to a Social Affairs' spokesman, who was referring to ‘the confidentiality agreed by the players involved'.

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