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The Netherlands

Houthoff Buruma Amsterdam

The Securities Board of the Netherlands (STE) and the Dutch Central Bank have recently issued policy rules regarding the scope and interpretation of a number of Dutch financial regulations relating to the Internet. These financial regulations apply to the issuers of securities, securities firms, banks and investment institutions. The policy rules are partly based upon the IOSCO report "Securities Activity on the Internet: Report of the Internet Task Force to the Technical Committee", dated September 19 1998.

In particular, the new policy rules make clear that institutions established outside the Netherlands may fall within the scope of these regulations if they carry out activities, through the Internet, that are aimed at the Dutch market. These activities include the offering of securities and investment services, the soliciting of funds from the public, the offering of securities in investment institutions, etc.

When is an Internet activity aimed at the Dutch market? The policy rules all take a similar approach. Although the answer is to be determined on a case-by-case basis, the rules provide non-comprehensive lists of factors which may be relevant, including: whether there is a disclaimer (eg stating that the prospectus is not directed at Dutch residents); whether a list of countries at which the activities are explicitly not aimed includes the Netherlands or not; whether Dutch is used as the primary language; whether information is provided on the Dutch tax regime; etc.

It is important to note that both the STE and central bank have powers of several different kinds to proceed against any violation of these regulations.

English translations of the policy rules will, according to the STE and central bank, be made available shortly on their respective web sites (www.ste.nl and www.dnb.nl).

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