Dutch government’s 2019 purchase of Air France-KLM shares ‘irregular’: audit office

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FILE PHOTO – The Air France-KLM company logo is seen during the company’s half-year results in Paris, France, August 1, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – A 2019 move by the Dutch government to buy a 14% stake in Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) was not in accordance with the country’s laws, the Netherlands’ Court of Audit ruled on Wednesday.

The government purchased the shares without informing parliament as part of a campaign to increase its influence over Air France’s KLM subsidiary, arguing that if it had announced its intention publicly, it would have violated insider trading rules and increased the cost.

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But, in a surprise ruling, the court said under the country’s constitution, ministers “must inform parliament of such transactions in advance,” and not present them with a done deal after the fact.

“In our opinion, the transaction was therefore irregular,” it said.

Reporting by Toby Sterling; editing by John Stonestreet

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