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There is great discontent among pensioners who receive a much smaller pension than expected due to a merger of their pension provider. They say they were not well informed about the consequences and have asked for legal assistance. In some cases, the damper would translate into a loss in purchasing power of more than 70 percent. The consumption program Verify (BNNVARA) receives complaints in this regard from participants of various large pension funds and insurers. In the broadcast on Saturday, April 8 (7:15 p.m., NPO2) we will discuss this issue in detail.
Two recent rulings by the administrative court show that De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), the supervisor of financial institutions, must ensure that pension insurers personally write to their policyholders about the consequences of a merger and the possibility of objecting to it.
“Money destined for pensions has been badly transferred”
The cases were brought by port workers from the merged Aegon/Optas insurance group. The court struck down the so-called ‘consent decision’ by which DNB had approved the controversial merger.
According to their lawyer, due to a lack of information, the port workers have not had the opportunity to stop the merger. If 25 percent of policyholders had objected, DNB would not have been allowed to agree to the merger and portfolio transfer. And that has had significant financial consequences.
According to lawyer Florence Schoonderwoerd, who assists some of the dockworkers, there was a total of 2.5 billion in cash in Optas: “This amount was erroneously transferred to the Aegon estate, and therefore did not benefit the retirement provision of approximately 50,000 dock workers.”
The lawyer wants to try to undo the merger in follow-up proceedings and will demand reindexation.
Pensions cut drastically, pension fund summoned
Reiswerk Pensioen participants contribute Moneyto in addition to not being well informed about the consequences of the absorption of pensions by the PGB pension fund.
Travel industry employees aged 60 and over who accumulated a pension with Reiswerk Pensioenen received a 9 percent discount after PGB took over the crisis fund. The youngest even handed over almost 20 percent of their accumulated pension entitlements.
The lawyer and professor of pension law Hans van Meerten has now summoned Reiswerk Pensioenen. “I am going to argue that the participants were not properly informed about the consequences of the merger and that they should have been able to oppose the transition.”
Van Meerten further argues that pension rights are property rights that cannot be altered without the person’s consent. Certainly not if people face a disproportionate reduction in their pension rights. The lawyer relies on judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights.
A substantive hearing will follow in May before the court’s decision. He has several cases in preparation for members of several large pension funds.
DNB: “The rules on the obligation to provide information are not clear”
The rules on the obligation of information of pension providers are not clear, according to inquiries in DNB. Both pension funds and pension insurers must inform their participants of the consequences of a merger or acquisition.
“But a collective transfer of value in the event of a pension fund liquidation does not require the consent of the individual participants. The participants also have no right of opposition. This is also the case for a legal merger between pension funds,” said a spokesman.
Van Meerten regularly receives complaints from pension participants of various pension providers who were unaware of the pension reduction as a result of a merger. “Pension managers need to inform people more carefully about the consequences of a merger. It is also notable that a merger between pension funds cannot be objected to, whereas that is possible with a merger between pension insurers,” he said. lawyer.
DNB to tighten merger notification procedure
DNB says it “agrees with the judge’s judgment that policyholders are best reached through direct, personal communication, now that print newspapers are less and less read these days.”
For this reason, the regulator has decided to toughen the disclosure of planned portfolio transfers (mergers) between pension insurers: “We will make sure that insurers personally inform their policyholders from now on about their right to oppose. We will also make sure that that the information is objective and balanced”. provides information about the consequences of a portfolio transfer and that significant details are reported”.
According to DNB, there are about five mergers or portfolio transfers between life insurers every year. The number of pension funds has gone from 245 in 2018 to 173 this year. DNB cannot say if the number of mergers will continue in the transition to the new pension system. If a pension provider decides to switch to the new pension system, individual participants still cannot object. The Senate has yet to approve the new legislation.
DNB will not appeal against the decision of the administrative court. Aegon has filed an appeal. PGB says that it does not have a clear picture of the communication between Reiswerk Pensioenen and its participants.
Click on the links below to view two rulings from the administrative court.
Responses from Aegon, DNB and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment
Aegon, De Nederlandsche Bank and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment responded to our findings.
You can read the full responses via the links below (.pdf).