Fraud and Corruption in Slovenia

Adrian Bradjan
16/08/2019, Articles
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The Ljubljana dragon is by far the most recognisable symbol of Slovenia’s capital city. It majestically dominates the famous Dragon bridge, shows off in various heraldic signs, is a mascot and a symbol of various sports clubs. And it appears in Slovenian tales and songs.

Legend says that ancient Greek hero Jason and his Argonauts defeated the monster which lived by the Danube river, a dragon. But this dragon seems to have left a poisoned egg: the small country in the heart of Europe is being plundered by the EU. Without any big noise. And why? To make their banks more attractive to foreign investors. And to make the country more receptive to the Troika’s demands.

Read what DiEM25 Ljubljana reports:

A harsh battle is shaping up between Slovenia’s judiciary and the EU. An indictment against former top Slovenian Central Bank officials implicates the EU Commission and the ECB in collusion to misrepresent the assets of state-owned banks which have since been forced into privatization by the Commission.

Back in Spring of 2013, Slovenia began to be touted as the next in line after the Troika (European Commission, IMF and ECB) installed a rescue plan for Cyprus. The media started drumming up threats that the Troika’s next stop would be Slovenia. Stress tests of the banks began in the summer of 2013 and results presented in December showed a capital deficit of 4.78 billion euros.

The stress test was a shock for Slovenia

This was a shock because a month earlier the European Banking Authority (EBA) had found that the biggest two banks had sufficient capital. All of a sudden, the estimated capital was 2.9 billion euros lower. Furthermore, the two separate audits by two independent agencies, Oliver Wyman and Roland Berger, differed by a whopping 1.5 billion euros.

As reported by the Ljubljana weekly Mladina, the indictment of the four Bank of Slovenia officials reportedly rests on the scary charge that no official methodology was used in the stress tests. The estimates they signed off on, which had been presented by the European Commission (EC), were simply fabricated.

On approval of the EC, the Slovenian government was forced to take a 2.8 billion euros high interest credit to raise the capital of the banks on condition that the banks would be privatized later. At the same time the EC changed the “bail-out“ rules in August 2013 to “bail-in“ which dispossessed all subordinated holders of bank bonds. Whereas earlier the German, French, Irish, Italian and other governments were allowed to bail out their banks by flooding them with enormous amounts of money, the Slovenian government was required to sell its shares in the banks. Simultaneously, the banks business operations were strictly limited until they were sold.

Government crumbled under the Commission’s pressures

The Slovenian government resisted the order to sell off the banks for a long time and argued with the EC that the economy had recovered strongly in the interim and there was no need for it. But then it gradually crumbled under the EC pressures. In 2016, NKBM bank was sold to the Apollo Fund for a mere 250 million euros although the government had previously poured 870 million euros in, to raise its capital. The shares of all small shareholders had been revoked. And finally also the biggest Slovenian bank NLB went on sale. The country had already just invested 1.5 billion euros in it. 60% of the bank had been sold earlier for about 600 million euros.

Mladina speculated that the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the Bank of Slovenia were deliberately setting up sound, cleaned-up banks for foreign investors. With no major financial institution left, the country would also be more pliable and receptive. The damage to the domestic financial market is enormous.

Although not cited in the indictment, the EC is already locked in a legal battle. It objected to a police raid of the Slovenian Central Bank’s archives and in February this year filed suit against the Slovenian government for violating “their“ archives.

This is not the first time the EU is trying to hide crucial evidence.

As we remember well, the European Court ruled in March 2019 that the ECB did not have to disclose the Greek Files, key documents relating to the Greek crisis.

The Corporate Europe Observatory – a research and campaign group which exposes the power of corporate lobbying in the EU –, in September 2018, reported on a decade of close ties between the European Commission and the financial industry: “The European Commission moved fast to let bankers set the agenda”. It estimates that one third of all top staff in the department regulating finance (DG FISMA) either worked for the financial industry before or after public office.

DiEM25’s fight for transparency also includes this kind of corruption.

We demand public access to all meeting notes of all EU institutions. We demand public access to all documentation and expert opinions. We demand a public registry of EU officials and their meetings with lobbying organisations and the content of those meetings.

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