As there is in Belgium no clear legal definition of the value of an email - nor any guidelines about how to treat it in a professional or financial environment or to handle it as legal proof (ediscovery) emails keep turning up now and than.
Now it is claimed that when it became clear in internal documents that Fortis has neglected since september 2007 the warnings from its risk department about its US subprime investments and didn't communicate their information to the shareholders - who didn't know the right value of their stock, the solvability of the bank and the risks it was taking with this take-over of Amro (the history of Nemo trying to eat a shark), that the top manager were sending each other emails about that research. They now say that they never have sent such emails. I hope that Fortis has an emailarchiving solution that can be used in a legal situation (if it is compliant with US reglementation it should).
The lawyers of the different courtcases against Fortis should also ask the judge to take measures to be sure that no proof was or is being destroyed that could be discovered in a ediscovery investigation.
It becomes clear that if internal risk auditors in a financial institution have no real independence, they can't work for the good of the bank because they will lack the independence and resources to do their work as they should have done, although it was difficult for them to go public at that time. After the accountants and the ITsecuritypeople, maybe it is now time for the risk auditors to get some official statutary independence. Speaking of independence. Our independent Financial and BankCommission that should have supervised the operation and the risks the bank was taking was informed about the notes from the risk department but choose not to act than and not to comment now.
It looks a bit like the IT world. Nobody is responsable.