Deminor launches ultimate Arco offensive | The standard

Deminor launches ultimate Arco offensive | The standard
Deminor launches ultimate Arco offensive | The standard

The Deminor consultancy is using the last hundred days before the statute of limitations of the Arco file to launch an ultimate offensive. It hopes to rally several thousands of cooperative members behind it.

“It is the last chance to achieve justice in this case. Last year’s ruling from the corporate court cannot possibly be the end. The court has not even ruled on the (possible) deception of Arco cooperatives,” says Erik Bomans, partner at Deminor and CEO of Deminor Recovery Services.

Deminor has already announced that it will start proceedings at the end of December at the court of first instance in Brussels against Arco, Belfius and the Belgian state. ‘After that it will be irrevocably too late and the file will expire, leaving 800,000 small savers out in the cold,’ warns Bomans.

Bomans denounces that the Belgian state, Belfius and Arco avoid any possibility of reaching an amicable solution. Deminor continues to argue for such a settlement, but in the meantime opens an additional legal front. Deminor has already appealed against the judgment of the company court, but is now adding proceedings before the court of first instance. Where in the first proceedings the cancellation of the purchase of the Arco securities was still requested, the proceedings in the first instance concern compensation for misrepresentation.

Incidentally, there are already proceedings from another interest group, ArcoClaim, before the Court of First Instance, but it is not the same parties that were summoned. ArcoClaim also targets Movement.net, while this is not the case with Deminor. Who is also on the dock, is the bank Belfius and the Belgian state. Belfius then again asked that Arco should also appear.

Deminor wants to mobilize as many cooperators as possible. ‘Already 3,500 cooperative members have confirmed their participation,’ says Bomans. “Around 1,000 are added every week.” The recruitment will continue until December 15. There are 2,169 claimants in the proceedings before the company court. These are not the same cooperative members because you cannot go to two different courts for the same facts.

Deminor asks the court to oblige the state to fulfill its commitment.

Erik Bomans, partner at Deminor: ‘It is the last chance to achieve justice in this case.’

Photo: Inge Kinnet

Pot of 200 million

Deminor already went to the company court in 2014 to have injured Arco cooperators compensated. It lost that proceeding, the appeal is still pending. The new case before the court of first instance should put extra pressure.

Nevertheless, Deminor already has a fall-back position. At Arco there is a piggy bank that contains 200 million. This is the result of the liquidation of the Arco companies. These were put into liquidation after the collapse of the major bank Dexia in 2011. The sale already yielded 350 million, which largely ended up with the bank Belfius. But there is still 200 million euros left, Deminor believes.

That money is available, but cannot be paid out yet because the liquidation of Arco cannot be closed due to the lawsuits.

Deminor itself has opened two legal fronts. If it is up to Bomans, all that squabbling will end and an amicable settlement will be reached. That would clear the way for the 200 million to be paid out. If it’s up to Deminor, to the co-operatives who went to court to defend their rights.

If there is no settlement, the 200 million will remain blocked until the legal proceedings are settled. That could take many years. Moreover, the Arcopotje normally belongs to the creditors. And those are the Belgian state (90 million), Movement.net (45 million) and Belfius (65 million), says Deminor.

Bomans finds it inconceivable that the state would receive 90 million. ‘When Dexia got into trouble, the government demanded that Arco put even more money into Dexia when it didn’t have that money. Arco’s arm was twisted, but in return was promised that the cooperative members would enjoy the savings guarantee. That guarantee scheme later turned out to be illegal.

And Belfius?

‘The co-operatives were put in front of their eyes. They were first told their money was safe and when the scheme was quashed they were promised a plan B and they would be compensated. Not a single promise was kept. The state has misled citizens. It is inconceivable that she would be rewarded with a profit of 90 million.’

Movement.net, formerly known as ACW, is the only party to have said so far that it is leaving its Arco funds to the cooperatives. The bank Belfius, whose predecessor at the time sold the cooperative shares as if it were on par with a safe savings account, has not yet made such a promise. According to Bomans, Belfius can still donate that money to the cooperative members as part of a commercial gesture. Time is running out, however, because the Arco file will expire within a hundred days. After that statute of limitations, a ‘commercial gesture’ is difficult to defend for the board of directors and supervisor.

The article is in Dutch

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