Adriaan de Gier, the Dutch lawyer who demanded historic compensation for duped Fortis investors, is demanding that Belgian and Dutch banks repay billions in interest.
De Gier, a 56-year-old lawyer from Utrecht, says banks, insurers and other financial groups have overcharged their customers for years when they provided mortgages, consumer loans or other variable-rate loans. Via a new interest group, Qollect, de Gier demands that those affected customers be compensated.
- With his new interest group Qollect, Dutch lawyer Adriaan de Gier is demanding billions in compensation from Dutch and Belgian financial institutions.
- Banks, insurers, credit card companies and other players have overcharged customers for years through variable-rate products.
- De Gier made a name for himself in Belgium as one of the major pioneers of the historic Fortis settlement of 1.3 billion euros that was reached with Ageas in 2016.
Something that can cost banks and insurers billions: if we are to believe De Gier, financial players in the Netherlands have overcharged their customers by no less than 33 billion euros. ‘The variable interest that banks charge evolves along with the market interest that they themselves have to pay,’ he says. ‘If the market interest rate rises, the variable interest rate also rises. But now that the market interest rate has fallen, banks and other financial players have done nothing or too little to adjust the variable interest rate. That has remained at too high a level for years.’
In the Netherlands alone, ABN AMRO, ING and Rabobank have misled 8 million consumers. Qollect, which managed to gather 125,000 customers in just a few days, is now demanding compensation of 4.2 to 16.7 billion euros from the three banks. If they do not come up with compensation themselves, Qollect will go to court.
It is no coincidence that De Gier is now looking for the spotlight with Qollect. Last week, another interest group, Consumers’ Association, reached a settlement with ABN AMRO. The Dutch major bank repays 250 million euros in interest charged too high. But Qollect calls this ‘a cloth for the bleeding’.
Qollect also has Belgian financial institutions on the radar and calls on victims in our country to join. ‘We can easily take ING Belgium with us because we also have a campaign against it in the Netherlands,’ says de Gier. ‘But BNP Paribas Fortis, KBC and Belfius are also among our primary targets. In fact, all banks have also applied the same trick in Belgium. We now examine the legal differences between Belgium and the Netherlands in this area. In the Netherlands, however, there is no limitation period for such matters. Customers can therefore go back endlessly in time with their interest files. With Qollect we can also assist claimants in processing all those files.’
De Gier is not ready for his test piece with his new billion-dollar claim. As the driving force behind the Dutch interest group FortisEffect, de Gier helped pave the way for the historic settlement of 1.3 billion euros that Fortis heir Ageas reached five years ago with duped investors. That settlement could only come about because De Vulture stubbornly persisted in the Fortis case. When FortisEffect went to court to address years of investor deception by the Fortis top, the lawyer was initially given the lid on the nose.
In Belgium, all banks have applied the same trick with the interest.
Only after an appeal procedure did the Amsterdam judge agree with De Gier. ‘The Fortis case is often made complicated, but it is very simple. The company has cheated its shareholders. I have little compassion for that’, summed up the ambitious son of an accountant and a housewife.
The Fortis settlement has also not done the Vulture itself any harm. Anyone who joined FortisEffect had to pay 39 euros annually as long as the procedure was ongoing and ultimately transfer 10 percent of the compensation that he receives.
Anyone who registers with De Gier’s newest initiative Qollect can do so free of charge. But if a settlement is reached with a financial player, the aggrieved customer will have to pay 10 percent of the compensation to the interest group. If that compensation comes after a lawsuit, it rises to 20 percent.