* Former SNS head quits industry body
* FinMin sees no evidence of fraud
* Options limited for holding management to account
* No moves planned to squeeze senior debt holders
(Adds resignation of former SNS head from industry group)
By Thomas Escritt
AMSTERDAM, Feb 3 The Dutch finance minister said
on Sunday he would look at whether those responsible for the
mismanagement of SNS Reaal can be held accountable following
last week's 10 billion euro rescue of the country's No. 4 bank.
The troubled banking and insurance group was nationalised on
Friday after it failed to meet a Jan. 31 deadline for securing a
capital injection to cover heavy losses in its property finance
business. The bulk of the costs will be born by taxpayers,
although other banks will have to contribute.
Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, speaking on weekly
television news programme Buitenhof, said the options were
limited in terms of holding those responsible accountable for
But he said that Sjoerd van Keulen - a former chief
executive of SNS Reaal and one of several managers facing
criticism from investors - should step down from his post as
chairman of Holland Financial Centre, an umbrella group for the
Dutch financial sector which he has headed since leaving SNS
Reaal in 2009. Within hours, Van Keulen had resigned.
Asked what legal steps could be taken against Van Keulen,
who was chief executive between 2002 and 2009 and who was in
charge when the bank took the fateful decision to acquire a
property portfolio in 2006, Dijsselbloem ruled out a criminal
prosecution, saying there was no evidence of fraud.
But he said that steps might be taken under civil law
against those responsible for SNS Reaal's failure.
"I'm going to have people look into whether there is
anything that can be done under civil law, but I think the
possibilities are limited," he told Dutch public television.
A finance ministry spokesman later clarified that any such
moves could relate to anybody who had sat on the board until the
bank's nationalisation on Friday.
Dijsselbloem, who last month took over chairmanship of the
group of euro zone finance ministers, was responding to public
anger at the need to bail out yet another bank at a time of
economic weakness and austerity measures.
SNS Reaal's top executives - chairman Rob Zwartendijk, chief
executive Ronald Latenstein and finance chief Ference Lamp -
resigned on Friday, saying they had wanted a private sector
Before the credit crunch hit in 2008, the Netherlands was
one of the world's leading financial sectors and its top banks
and insurers had an international profile despite the country's
small size. But as in many other countries, the sector has
retrenched dramatically since then.
The Dutch government had to pay out 40 billion euros to
rescue the domestic financial sector in 2008, when it provided
capital injections for ING, Aegon and SNS
Reaal, as well as nationalising ABN AMRO.
While most investors lost their money in the nationalisation
of SNS Reaal, Dijsselbloem warned that any attempts to claw back
money from owners of senior debt - whose securities were not
expropriated by the state - could be counter-productive.
"I have to be careful that the Dutch financial sector
doesn't become vulnerable because of this," he said, warning
that senior debt issuance was an important source of finance for
the Dutch financial sector.
But he said investors should be prepared to accept the risk
of losing their money.
"Investors aren't always used to the idea that if it goes
wrong you lose your money, but that's really part of investing."
He also defended the Dutch central bank, the regulator,
saying it had improved its regulatory practices since 2008.
Dijsselbloem said SNS Reaal's collapse was an indication
that the Netherlands, one of the last remaining triple A rated
countries in the euro zone, was not the "best kid in the class".
"We have a budget deficit... a financial sector which is not
yet in order, and we have very big problems in our housing and
real estate markets," he said.
"The whole idea that you have the south with problems and
the north (of the euro zone) which doesn't, is not correct.
There are several northern countries that need serious changes."
(Reporting By Thomas Escritt; Editing by Sara Webb and Stephen