Romanian SocDem leader lashes at Dutch pension fund manager and financial regulator head for spreading “fake” information
Liviu Dragnea, the head of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), accused the local subsidiary of Dutch insurance group NN of spreading false rumors about the possible nationalization of the local private pension funds and inciting its clients to protests and called for a harsh reaction from the authorities against the company.
He also accused the president of the Financial Supervisory Authority (ASF) Misu Negritoiu, a former ING Romania CEO, of having started the whole scandal on the nationalization of private pensions by providing certain information to the pension fund NN Pensii. The PSD leader said the information was “fake” and that there haven’t been even informal talks about the nationalization of private pension funds.
Dragnea claims that the whole scandal is part of a campaign to discredit the Government and its economic and budget projections, which started in February. In February, the PSD leader accused multinationals of being involved organizing the anti-government protests in Romania.
Earlier this week, NN Pensii, the biggest private pension fund manager in Romania notified its customers that there have been public discussions in recent weeks on a possible nationalization of private pension funds. The fund manager urged the contributors to get informed about the market context.
“This scandal started from Mr. Misu Negritoiu, the ASF president, who knows very well that the Parliament will soon dismiss the whole ASF leadership, because what has been going on there is very bad and has been affecting Romanian clients and policyholders,” Dragnea said in a TV show at Antena 3 TV channel.
“The Government should also ask for explanations from the Netherlands Embassy and the Dutch Government, because what this insurance company has done in Romania can only be done in a colony. You can’t start such a scandal from nothing. It’s inadmissible,” the PSD leader added.
He explained that if a company receives such an information as the nationalization of private pensions, it should check with the Government whether the information is real, not start an online campaign. He accused the company of inciting its clients to protests.
“What this company did is inadmissible. From my point of view, the ASF, Government, and Finance Ministry must act very rough in this case, because we must give an example to other multinationals that make tens of billions in Romania and mock Romanians and the Romanian state,” the PSD leader said, adding that the governing coalition hasn’t talked.
Dragnea also said that if the prosecutors don’t take any action in this case, he would make a parliamentary committee that will summon NN Romania’s representatives and ask them where had they got the information from. He said that the management of NN in the Netherlands should also be asked for explanations related to this scandal.
Finance minister Viorel Stefan said on Wednesday that the Government had no plans to nationalize the private pension funds. He said there was no reason to take such a measure.
“Today the mandatory private pension system is a successful scheme, with very good returns, which includes over 6 million contributors and manages over EUR 7 billion in assets,” the minister said.
He asked the ASF to summon the mandatory private pension fund managers and tell them officially that this scenario doesn’t exist in order to close the scandal.
ASF issued a statement later that day, saying that it didn’t share the rumors related to the nationalization of private pension funds. “There haven’t been and there aren’t any public discussions on this matter. The recent position of NN Pensii, which had a public intervention on this subject, is excessive and void. Such subjects can’t be introduced in the communication to clients based on rumors or political statements,” the ASF statement reads.
The company also issued a statement saying that its note to clients was strictly informative and was not a warning. The company also welcomed the statements of the finance minister and ASF, who expressed their support for the private pension system.
NN Pensii is the biggest private pension fund manager in Romania. It manages some EUR 2.7 billion worth of assets for 1.9 million contributors.
The mandatory private pension fund system in Romania was launched in 2008. Since then, the state has been transferring a part of the social security contributions paid by Romanian employees to these private pension funds. The contributions have gradually increased from 2% of the gross wage in 2008 to 5.1% of the gross wage now. The contribution was supposed to reach 6% of the gross wage in 2017, but the Government has delayed the increases in recent years.
Employees in Romania pay social security contributions representing 10.5% of their gross wages, of which 5.1% goes into private pension funds and the remaining 5.4% goes to the state budget to finance the public pension system. The public pension system is on a deficit and needs to get money from the state budget each year.'