Lars Capiau

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Michael van Praag, chairman of the Supervisory Board (SB) of Ajax, understands that it looks clumsy that the Supervisory Board had no knowledge of the alleged insider trading of the suspended Alex Kroes. Through an Excel file, the Supervisory Board gained insight for the first time into the dates on which Kroes bought his shares, as the chairman reconstructed to the NOS.

Ten days ago, Ajax first became aware that Kroes had made a mistake. When asked, Kroes sent an Excel file to the Supervisory Board of Ajax, where the date July 26 immediately stood out.

That was the day on which Kroes was verbally informed that he would become the new general manager of Ajax, says Van Praag. Kroes himself claimed that purchasing the 17,500 shares on that day was a show of confidence.

The Supervisory Board knew that Kroes bought 42,500 shares in Ajax. But the dates on which he did this were unclear until he sent the Excel file, Van Praag explains. “In the context of transparency, it is up to Alex himself to be complete and say when you bought the shares. But that did not happen.”

The Supervisory Board is certainly to blame, Van Praag acknowledges. “It sounds a bit clumsy and it is. We don't want this, it's very bad, but it happens to us. Of course we should have known. But in the first place it is also true that you trust people. I don't know if It is naive, but we have learned our lesson.”

“If you know that you will become CEO of a listed company and you buy shares without other shareholders knowing that you will become CEO, this is insider trading,” the Supervisory Board chairman explains.

Last Friday the Supervisory Board spoke with Kroes. The former AZ man was not aware of any harm. “He said it wasn't that bad and that he didn't know the rules,” Van Praag remembers that conversation.

“But if you are as active on the stock exchange as it is and you know that you are going to become CEO of a listed company, and even if you don't know all that, every Dutch person should know the law. And we all know that trading with insider knowledge is a crime.”

“I have read it too,” Van Praag refers to Kroes' LinkedIn statement. “He now puts the blame on the Supervisory Board, but that is very easy. I mean, we did not commit insider trading, he did that. We cannot do anything about this,” says the chairman.

Van Praag does not agree with the qualification of the administrative Ajax as 'unprecedented chaos'. “We will continue as usual administratively. I will be a delegated commissioner, so I will assist the management. Technically, we will continue on the path partly initiated by Alex, so I'm really not worried about that.”

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