NETHERLANDS - The €25bn pension fund for the construction industry BPF Bouw is understood to be the latest victim of the large-scale property fraud which has affected the company pension scheme of electronics giant Philips.
The industry-wide scheme's property investment manager, BPF Bouwinvest, may have lost between €2m-€3m in a transaction involving the planned construction of the skyscraper Coolsingeltoren in Rotterdam, Dick van Hal, chief executive of BPF Bouwinvest confirmed to IPE.
"Investigations have been started by both the tax inspectors of the FIOD and our own organisation into suspect components of invoices in 2002," said Van Hal.
The CEO also confirmed potential financial irregularities involving two projects in The Hague and Amsterdam are being investigated as well.
"But because these projects were small, they will not add considerably to the ultimate damage," he stressed.
According to Van Hal, who started his job six months ago, the pension fund nor its staff are suspects in the investigations.
BPF Bouwinvest's chief executive said he cannot indicate when he investigations will be finished but added: "If fraud can be proven, we will do all we can to recoup the lost assets."
Although an internal investigation at Philips has yet to be completed, the property fraud is estimated to have cost its pension fund €150m and among the suspects are two former directors of its property investment subsidiary PREIM.
BPF Bouwinvest manages €6bn worth of real estate for the pension funds, which represents approximately 24% of BPF Bouw's assets. Three-quarters of the property is invested in the Netherlands.
BPF Bouw represents 900,000 workers, deferred members and pensioners in the building industry.