Microsoft Faces Dutch Fines in Bankruptcy of Russia-Linked Bank
(Bloomberg) -- A Dutch court ruled that Microsoft Corp. must allow bankruptcy trustees appointed to the Russia-linked Amsterdam Trade Bank to access to its data or face fines.
The technology giant risks daily fines of 10 million euros ($10.5 million), with a maximum penalty of 100 million euros, if it doesn’t comply with the ruling, court-appointed trustee Job van Hooff said by phone late Tuesday. ATB, a lender linked to Russia’s Alfa Group, was declared bankrupt last month in the Netherlands after U.S. and U.K. sanctions paralyzed its payment systems.
“We don’t have access to email boxes because they have been shut down” by Microsoft, van Hooff said. “They contain important information for us trustees to be able to conduct the investigation into the causes of the bankruptcy,” he said. “There are also all kinds of documents, excel files, internal committee reports, minutes from management board meetings that were also to a large part stored in Microsoft’s environment.”
The trustees and Microsoft are currently discussing the issue, said van Hooff. “We’re evaluating potential solutions that would enable us to comply with both the court’s decision and sanctions imposed by the U.S., EU, and U.K.,” said Sarah O’Hare O’Neal, associate general counsel of global trade at Microsoft by email.
Van Hooff said some data was also stored via Amazon.com Inc. but they did not file proceedings against the company after it cooperated with the trustees. Dutch financial daily Het Financieele Dagblad was first to report the trustees’ dispute with Microsoft.
ATB had 23,000 private account holders, most of whom are resident in the Netherlands, and about 6,000 customers in Germany, according to the Dutch central bank. The lender, in which sanctioned billionaire Mikhail Fridman held an interest via Alfa Group, has been operating in the Netherlands since 1994 and had over 1.2 billion euros in assets, according to a 2020 report.
The trustees “will first look into possibilities to liquidate assets of the bank,” van Hooff said. After that they will start looking into the causes of the bankruptcy, he said.
The central bank said it will pay eligible ATB account holders a maximum of 100,000 euros per person.
“The bank was quite solvent and liquid” but the U.S. and U.K. sanctions made it impossible for the bank to transfer funds, according to van Hooff. A number of banks also refused incoming payments from ATB bank accounts, he said.
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