Dutch court: Former Fortis CEO misled investors

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AMSTERDAM (AP) — A Dutch civil court has ruled that the former chief executive of the now-defunct Belgian bank Fortis knowingly misled investors during the bank's slide toward insolvency in 2008 and may be held personally liable.

The ruling by the Utrecht district court Wednesday against former CEO Jean Paul Votron is being hailed by Dutch media as a landmark, though Votron faces no criminal prosecution and any damages will have to be considered in a separate case.

Fortis, RBS and Santander bought ABN Amro in a hostile takeover in 2007 that was nominally the largest in banking history.

But Fortis overpaid for its share — ABN's Dutch operations — and the Netherlands nationalized the Fortis-ABN combination in October 2008 to avoid a meltdown of the country's financial system.

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