Belgian government set to demand a minimum 500m from rescued banks

THE Belgian government is to demand that its bailed out banks pay back a minimum of &euro;500m (&pound;464m) of aid they received amid the financial crisis, ministers said yesterday.<br /><br />The country&rsquo;s deputy prime minister, Socialist Laurette Onkelinx, told a party conference that she would ensure that banks &ldquo;pay for the crisis they have caused&rdquo;.<br /><br />&ldquo;The figure of &euro;500m has been mentioned. For us, that is a minimum,&rdquo; she continued.<br /><br />Her comments were echoed by the country&rsquo;s development cooperation minister Charles Michel, who also described the figure as a &ldquo;minimum&rdquo;.<br /><br />The Belgian government doled out capital injections worth tens of millions of dollars to its banks, as they reeled from the impact of the collapse of Wall Street investment bank Lehman Brothers last year.<br /><br />Lenders to receive state aid included Belgian bank KBC, Belgian-Dutch bank and insurer Fortis, Franco-Belgian bank Dexia and the Belgian bank and insurer Ethias.<br /><br />The ministers did not say what form repayment would take, but Belgian sources said that the money would be diverted to the country&rsquo;s 2010 budget.<br /><br />Belgium recently participated in a &euro;4.3bn rights issue by French bank BNP Paribas, after becoming the lender&rsquo;s second-largest shareholder with the sale of the nationalised parts of Fortis to the French firm.