Dijsselbloem Seeks Dutch Law for Central-Bank Audit

The Dutch government wants to propose an emergency law to let the Court of Audit oversee institutions such as the central bank, Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said.

“I don’t want to wait for Europe on this; I want an emergency law to make this possible,” Dijsselbloem told parliament in The Hague today. Lawmakers from across the political spectrum said earlier in the day that failures in supervision by the central bank helped lead to the Feb. 1 nationalization of SNS Reaal NV, the fourth-largest Dutch lender.

The Hague-based Court of Audit checks on the government’s revenue and expenditure and on whether policies are implemented as intended. Most lawmakers are seeking a hearing into the central bank’s role in the events leading up to the nationalization. Its president, Klaas Knot, said Feb. 12 he will attend.

Dijsselbloem took over SNS after real-estate losses brought the bank to the brink of collapse. The bailout will cost taxpayers 3.7 billion euros ($4.9 billion) in write-offs and capital injections; the government is also providing 6.1 billion euros in loans and guarantees.

“We’ve seen with SNS that big mistakes have been made,” Arnold Merkies, a member of the opposition Socialist Party, told parliament. “We’re not there yet, as we’ve seen with the SNS debacle,” said Aukje De Vries of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberal party.

Court Ruling

The top Dutch administrative court will hear investors’ appeals tomorrow against the government’s decision to expropriate their holdings. The administrative court of the Council of State will rule on the legality of the nationalization by Feb. 25, Wendy van der Sluijs, a spokeswoman for the court in The Hague, said Feb. 7.

The central bank asked the government last year to intervene in SNS to prevent the rescue from becoming more costly, RTL Nieuws television reported Feb. 11, citing letters from the lender to Jan Kees de Jager, who was finance minister at that time. RTL published the letter dated Oct. 2 on the website.

Parliament today debated the conclusions of a commission report on the nation’s financial system. The government took on “large” risks with too little transparency and poor execution in its bailouts of Fortis, ABN Amro and ING Groep NV in 2008 and 2009, the commission said.

In 2008, the Netherlands bought Fortis’s Dutch banking and insurance units and its stake in ABN Amro for 16.8 billion euros. The government also provided aid to ING, the biggest Dutch financial-services company, and Aegon NV at the time, and reimbursed Dutch depositors of Landsbanki Islands hf’s Icesave unit after the firm collapsed.

“The Dutch financial system needs to become simpler, less complex,” said Henk Nijboer of the Labor Party, Rutte’s coalition partner. “We shouldn’t be fooled by lobbyists, it is now time to act.”