BELGIUM – A Belgian court has ordered Vanguard, the $850bn (€710bn) mutual fund company, to pick up a damages tab worth almost €400,000 following defeat by former European marketing assistant director Henk Beets.

Beets – awarded €381,232 plus costs on Thursday - sued Vanguard Investments Europe for €1m following a fallout with managing director Ian Alcock.

According to reports, the clash occurred after Alcock allegedly requested Beets to carry out more menial administrative tasks as opposed to the job specifications set out in his contract.

Things came to a head at the end of March last year when Alcock is said to have addressed Beets in an “aggressive manner”. Reports state that the MD insulted Beets and told him to leave.

A spokesperson for Vanguard declined to comment on the case.

Alcock recently left Vanguard’s European headquarters in Waterloo, Belgium after completing a three-year fixed contract. He has since returned to Australia where he will be head of Asia-Pacific institutional business based in Melbourne.

He has been replaced by Vanguard’s Shellie Unger, who was responsible for international business in Europe and the Americas.

The loss of the court battle has also been compounded by press reports stating that Vanguard is considering closing down its Amsterdam arm headed up by Ronald Nagel – Beets’ replacement – due to a limited range of funds.

The Vanguard spokesperson dismissed these claims as “absolutely pure speculation and rumours. There are no plans at all to close these operations”.

He stated that numerous products have been launched, particularly in the Netherlands in light of new legislative changes regarding pension funds. These products are also receiving increased recognition.

“This is an example of our commitment,” he told IPE.

Vanguard has also reported its “best ever” cash flow year, which has been pegged at €4bn.