More Investigations into Banking Crimes, Two Bankers Jailed (Feature)

By , 13 Mar 2019, 06:25 AM News
More Investigations into Banking Crimes, Two Bankers Jailed (Feature) WilliamCho, public domain

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STA, 12 March 2019 - The Specialised State Prosecution, which deals with the most complex forms of crime, has told the STA that investigations continue into a number of cases of banking crime. Some tangible success has already been achieved, with two bankers, both former executives at Factor Banka, sent to prison so far.

The specialised service, which was launched in its current form in 2012, said it presently had 22 cases in the investigation. These involve 127 individuals and legal entities, 82 of which are practising or former bankers. The total damage in the cases is estimated at EUR 221.67m.

There are moreover 15 cases where a criminal charging document has already been filed. 48 individuals face charges, 29 of whom were working in the banking sector at the time of the alleged crime. The total damage estimated for these cases is EUR 92.19m.

While there are several more open cases in the pre-trial phase, the beginning of 2018 saw the first final guilty verdict for bankers in Slovenia.

It involved Dušan Valenčič and Boris Pesjak, the former executives of Factor Banka, the small bank that was liquidated in early 2016. Found guilty of abuse of office, both are serving prison sentences of 15 months.

Another Factor Banka executive, Mojca Lampret Križaj, pleaded guilty to abuse of office in 2017 and received a suspended sentence of three years.

Meanwhile, a trial has been underway at the Ljubljana District Court since 2015 against four former managers of the Slovenian branch of Hypo Alpe Adria - Andrej Potočnik, Andrej Oblak, Anton Romih and Božidar Špan - who stand accused of defrauding the bank of millions of euro.

A fifth defendant in the case, the former boss of bankrupt builder Vegrad, Hilda Tovšak, pleaded guilty in return for a suspended sentence of a year and a half.

Also still open is the case against former board members of the recently privatised NLB - Draško Veselinovič, Miran Vičič and Matej Narat.

The trio have been accused of acting with criminal intent in approving in 2009 a generous loan to Simona Dimic, an aide to Borut Pahor, the head of state, when he served as prime minister. They were found innocent in 2016, but the Higher Court ordered a retrial.

Another NLB executive, Dušan Šuštar, was found guilty of approving two loans worth EUR 2.75m in 2008 although knowing they would not be returned. He got four years in prison, but the verdict is not final yet. Several more lower profile cases of guilty verdicts related to NLB were listed by the prosecution.

The latest senior bakers to be found guilty of fraud committed at the height of the economic and financial crisis were Romana Pajenk and Milana Lah, who served as CEO and board member, respectively, at Probanka, a similar case to Factor Banka.

The pair received in January this year suspended sentences of 23 months with four-year probation for defrauding two businessmen of EUR 1.5m. The prosecution had sought four years in prison and has announced an appeal.

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