(Bloomberg) -- The Dutch Central Bank apologized for its role in the Atlantic slave trade and pledged to support initiatives that aim to reduce the repercussions of the legacy of slavery.

European Central Bank Governing Council member Klaas Knot, who is also president of the bank, addressed his apology to the descendants of enslaved people in the Netherlands during the annual Keti Koti celebration that commemorates the abolition of slavery.

The bank pledged to set up a fund to finance projects worth 5 million euros ($5.2 million) over the next 10 years in the Netherlands, Suriname and the Caribbean. It also said it will provide additional one-time funding of 5 million euros for a number of initiatives such as the National Research Center on the History of Slavery.

“On behalf of De Nederlandsche Bank, I acknowledge that many of my predecessors viewed people as nothing more than merchandise,” said Knot. “That many defended the existence of slavery and the prolongation of slavery and that many later ignored the ramifications of slavery for a long, long time.”

The central bank acknowledged in February that its former directors were involved in slavery after an independent study was carried out by Leiden University. Several prominent bank officials were personally involved in colonial slavery and part of the bank’s startup capital came from business owners with direct interests in plantation slavery in areas such as Suriname, according to the study.

ABN Amro Bank NV also recently apologized after it was revealed the bank’s predecessor played a “pivotal role” in the international slave trade of the 18th century.

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