Massive Run on Dutch Bank Caused by TV Show Appeal

October 6, 2009 Updated: October 6, 2009

ROOSENDAAL, The Netherlands—A Dutch economist’s attempt to bankrupt Dutch bank DSB by encouraging all customers to withdraw their money resulted in millions of euros being taken out within days.

Pieter Lakeman, chairman of the Support Fund for Problem Mortgages, made his plea on one of the most popular Dutch morning television shows on Oct. 1.

On the same day, the DSB Web site went down and clients could no longer use online banking to withdraw their savings. Initially a DSB spokesperson said this was caused by too many clients suddenly wanting to withdraw money. Later the spokesperson said the Web site had suffered from attacks by hackers.

Several days later, media were reporting 70 million Euro (US$102 million) had been withdrawn. Holland’s largest newspaper reported on Friday that a bank spokesperson said that over 1 percent of the 4.5 billion (US$6.6 billion) in savings the bank controls had been withdrawn since Thursday morning.

Lakeman, whose company represents people who have been duped by high mortgages, said the bank had been ripping people off by overcharging on home mortgage insurance. He said duped individuals will stand a better chance with custodians to get compensated than with DSB bank.

"It is not going well with DSB at all,” Lakeman told the Dutch Financial Daily. “This is because they actually no longer have any way of making money after the single-premium insurances were canceled.”

DSB Bank said in a press release on Saturday it is going to compensate customers who got into trouble from signing overly expensive single-premium insurances while negotiating their house mortgages with the bank. This led to overpriced mortgages compared to the actual value of their houses.

DSB Bank owner Dirk Scheringa has publicly offered his "sincere apologies" to all customers.

Scheringa says his foremost concern now is to repair the trust relationship he had with his customers.
The Support Fund Problem Mortgages foundations announced an ultimatum to DSB on Monday—the bank must sign an agreement with the victims or face court action, local media reported.