ABN Said to Fire Bankers After Oil Trading Firm Prompts Probe

ABN Amro Group NV fired two bankers, including the Dutch lender’s global head of energy commodities, after an oil-trading company complained that the executives had sought a bribe.

Bruno Gremez and his subordinate Samir Kasmi, chief of energy commodities for the Middle East, North and East Africa and south Asia, were dismissed on March 26 after the lender completed an internal investigation, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

Ines Hoedemaeker, a lawyer representing Gremez and Kasmi, said they deny all allegations and declined to comment further. An official for Amsterdam-based, state-owned ABN Amro said the nation’s third-biggest bank acted appropriately and declined further comment.

The dispute emerged in a court case that saw Gremez and Kasmi challenge their suspensions from ABN Amro, which preceded their dismissal. According to an Amsterdam court ruling dated March 5 that was published on March 12, two executives whose titles matched those of Gremez and Kasmi were suspended after ABN Amro received a complaint in early December from Oil Marketing & Trading International LLC, or OMTI.

The Amsterdam court ruled ABN Amro was entitled to suspend the bankers before completing its investigations. Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad reported earlier today the men were fired.

Iranian Reports

The complaint from OMTI said the two executives requested a “personal fee” to resume financing that was halted, “and by that performed ‘blackmailing,’” according to the court. The court document did not name Gremez, who was based in Amsterdam, or Dubai-based Kasmi.

The ruling said the two executives required additional due diligence on OMTI after reports said Iranian oil had been traded from depots in the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah, breaking United Nations sanctions. Privately held OMTI has an office in Fujairah, according to its website, as well as Dubai and Athens.

OMTI’s financing from ABN Amro was resumed after Dec. 21, the court document showed, before the men were notified of the complaint. OMTI provided the due diligence materials, and an ABN Amro executive said in a memorandum dated Dec. 21 that OMTI had done nothing wrong, according to the court.

Yiannis Kilakos, a director at OMTI, declined to comment on the dispute between ABN Amro and its employees. In an e-mail, he “categorically” denied any reports that the company had dealt in Iranian oil.

ABN Amro has been state-owned since 2008, when the Netherlands rescued Fortis’s Dutch banking and insurance units and the bank’s stake in ABN Amro Holding NV after the Belgian firm’s collapse. Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, Spain’s Banco Santander SA and Fortis bought ABN Amro in 2007 in the world’s biggest banking takeover.

The case is: KK12-231, Plaintiff A, B v. ABN Amro Bank NV.

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