Dutch central bank chief apologizes for links to slavery

Jun 30, 2022, 6:05 PM | Updated: Jul 1, 2022, 7:47 am

AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Dutch central bank chief apologized Friday for the institution’s involvement in the 19th-century slave trade, the latest expression of contrition in the Netherlands linked to the country’s historic role in the trade in enslaved people.

The apology came at an event on the national day marking the Dutch abolishment of slavery and followed similar moves in recent years from municipal authorities in the major Dutch cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht.

De Nederlandsche Bank has acknowledged that it was involved in the transatlantic slave trade between 1814 and 1863 and even paid compensation to plantation owners when the Netherlands abolished slavery, including to members of the central bank’s board at the time.

The bank’s president, Klaas Knot, told a gathering in Amsterdam: “Today, on behalf of De Nederlandsche Bank, I apologize for these reprehensible facts.”

He added: “I apologize to all those who, because of the personal choices of many, including my predecessors, were reduced to the color of their skin.”

The bank announced a series of measures including boosting diversity and inclusiveness in its ranks and setting up a 5-million-euro ($5.2-million) fund for projects aimed at reducing “contemporary negative effects of nineteenth-century slavery.”

Knot’s apology came exactly a year after Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema apologized for the Dutch capital’s role in the slave trade. In April, Dutch bank ABN AMRO also apologized for historic links to slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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Dutch central bank chief apologizes for links to slavery