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Philips scheme reclaims millions from property fraud

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  • Philips scheme reclaims millions from property fraud

NETHERLANDS - The €14.3bn Philips pension fund will receive millions of euros in settlements with suspects in the large-scale property fraud it suffered in 2007.

The property tycoon Harry Hilders and his affiliated company Ceylonstate, have agreed to pay the Philips scheme €25.5m, the public prosecutor said.

In addition, Jan van Vlijmen, former director of Rabo Vastgoed subsidiary Bouwfonds, as well as his five affiliated companies - Bloemenoord Groep, Landquest, Kanaalcentrum Utrecht, Bloemenoord Holding and Europalaan Utrecht - have agreed to pay a total of €65m as compensation to both the Philips pension fund and his former employer.

In addition, Van Vlijmen's companies will pay the public prosecutor €5m in a transaction  separate from the penal case which is to start soon, the prosecutor indicated.

The former Bouwfonds director has been accused of forgery, money laundering and participating in a criminal organisation.

According to the public prosecutor, Hilders bribed a former director of PREIM, the real estate management subsidiary of the pension fund.

Hilders bought property from PREIM for too low a price, and allegedly paid the former director's company indirectly €5.4m in return, the public prosecutor said.

Hilders also agreed to pay the Dutch government €12.5m, which is considered "income from unlawfully obtained assets". In addition, he has been fined over €1.6m and agreed to 120 hours community service.

The public prosecutor further announced that 11 other suspects have agreed to reach a settlement for a total of €2.2m as well as community service to avoid further prosecution.

"We are satisfied so far, and are in particular pleased with the public prosecutor's speed and massive deployment of resources, commented Eric Drent, spokesman for the Philips Pensioenfonds.

However, he declined to comment on potential further compensation for the scheme, which lost an estimated €150m to the property fraud.

Since the fraud surfaced in 2007, the pension fund has joined criminal cases and initiated civil proceedings as well as seizures of suspects' property.
 

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