Belgian state starts legal
action against Swissair
22 February 2006
BRUSSELS "” The Belgian state is to lodge a criminal complaint in Switzerland against Swissair, a former shareholder of bankrupt Belgian airline Sabena.
Trustee Christian Van Buggenhout claims the Swiss airline took EUR 740 million away from its Belgian subsidiary, leading to Sabena's bankruptcy on 7 November 2001.
The trustee also lodged a complaint against Swissair in Zurich in 2004, Belgian financial newspaper 'De Tijd' reported on Wednesday.
The Belgian state's complaint will be lodged at the end of March in the court of Zurich, a spokesman for Public Enterprises Minister Bruno Tuybens said.
Tuybens has been authorised by the federal government to launch
the procedure. The complaint is targeted against Swissair and "every person who made errors".
The spokesman said the aim is to prove that several Swissair board members made personal mistakes.
Trustee Van Buggenhout said it is rare for a state to launch criminal proceedings against a company or individuals in another country.
Shortly before Sabena's bankruptcy, Swissair also went belly up in 2001. Van Buggenhout said the demise of the Swiss flag carrier led to the bankruptcy of Sabena.
With a controlling stake of 49.7 percent in Sabena, Swissair is accused of milking the Belgian airline dry between 1995 and 2001.
Van Buggenhout accused Swissair of appropriating EUR 740 million away from Sabena.
That figure is also mentioned in a complaint lodged with the Brussels appeals court where a civil procedure launched by the Belgian state is proceeding.
Together with the trustee, the Belgian state is demanding EUR 2.4 billion in compensation, a figure which equates to Sabena's full liabilities.
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