BRUSSELS, June 30 (Reuters) - Belgian prosecutors said on Tuesday they carried out a raid at the headquarters of BNP Paribas Fortis, the Belgian bank now owned by France’s BNP Paribas BNPP.P as part of a market manipulation probe.
“The raids took place in the framework of an investigation which was launched months ago into possible manipulation of share prices,” a Brussels prosecutor said.
He added that the probe focused also, among other things, on whether Fortis withheld information from its shareholders.
A Fortis spokesman confirmed prosecutors had questioned former Fortis Holding FOR.BR Chief Executive Filip Dierckx as part of the investigation.
Belgian prosecutors are also investigating suspected insider trading in financial group Fortis FOR.BR by a large shareholder in a separate probe launched in early June.
The transaction under investigation took place at the beginning of October, just before the Netherlands announced its nationalisation of Fortis’s Dutch operations, the first step in the group’s carve-up.
The Brussels prosecutor said at the time that the shares were sold just before the share price plunged.
Fortis shares, which had previously been regarded as a “safe” investment, fell to below 1 euro after the break-up from more than 5 euros just before.
The prosecutor said anyone who was involved with the talks over Fortis’ future could have leaked the information.
The shareholder could risk a one-year prison term or a fine amounting to three times the profit made on the share sale.
Fortis was carved up by the Dutch, Belgian and Luxembourg governments in October after an 11.2 billion euro ($15.83 billion) cash injection failed to calm investors.
French bank BNP Paribas took control of Fortis Bank Belgium in May after months of delay due to shareholder opposition. ($1=.7077 Euro) (Reporting by Antonia van de Velde; editing by Simon Jessop)