Ex-head of nationalised Dutch bank SNS Reaal "in hiding" -TV

AMSTERDAM Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:23am EST

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AMSTERDAM Feb 19 (Reuters) - The former chief executive of SNS Reaal, the Dutch financial group rescued by the state earlier this month, has left the country and gone into hiding after receiving "serious threats", Dutch TV reported on Monday night, citing unnamed sources.

Sjoerd van Keulen, who ran SNS Reaal from 2002 to 2009, has been widely criticised by politicians and members of the public, and has already stepped down as head of the country's top financial lobby group, and from other senior positions.

Reuters was unable to confirm whether he had left the Netherlands, after contacting local police and Dutch counter-terrorism agency NCTV. Neither van Keulen nor his family could immediately be reached for comment.

Dutch news programme RTL Nieuws did not give details about the source or nature of the alleged threats.

A spokesman for the NCTV said: "We have been informed that there have been threats against Mr. Van Keulen. That is all. He is a civilian just like everybody else, and it's local authorities' responsibility."

The government nationalised SNS Reaal on Feb. 1 in a 10-billion-euro ($13.5 billion) rescue because of continuing losses at the bank's property finance operations.

Dutch authorities last week detained two former employees of SNS Reaal, including the former head of SNS Property Finance, on suspicion of bribery, fraud and money laundering.

Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem's decision to nationalise SNS Reaal sparked a public outcry because of the cost to taxpayers. Subordinated bondholders and shareholders have said they will fight the nationalisation.

Van Keulen was advised to stay away for at least a few weeks, RTL Nieuws said, without specifying who had advised him.

Following SNS Reaal's nationalisation, a photograph of Van Keulen's home was published in the Netherlands' largest circulation newspaper, De Telegraaf, and a TV journalist urged the public to press Van Keulen to pay back his bonuses.

Two weeks ago, Dijsselbloem called on Van Keulen to step down as head of Holland Financial Centre (HFC), a lobby group for the financial sector. Within hours, he had quit.

Van Keulen did not immediately reply when asked for comment via network website LinkedIn. Calls to a mobile phone registered at the address identified by Dutch media as his home were unanswered. SNS Reaal and HFC declined to comment. (Reporting by Gilbert Kreijger; Editing by Mark Potter)

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