EU Commission Sues Slovenia Over Files Related to Banking Bailout

By , 25 Jan 2019, 10:20 AM Politics
Outside the Bank of Slovenia, Ljubljana Outside the Bank of Slovenia, Ljubljana Wikimedia - Fred Romero, CC by 2.0

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STA, 24 January 2019 - Slovenia will have to defend itself in front of the EU Court over its "violation of the inviolability of the archives of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the duty of sincere cooperation in the context of the seizure of ECB documents," the EU Commission announced on Thursday.

The case refers to a July 2016 police raid of the offices of Slovenia's central bank, a part of an investigation into the causes of the late-2013 bailout of the Slovenian banking system.

Since the Slovenian central bank is a part of the ECB system, some of the files seized pertained to the ECB, which is shielded from domestic law enforcement in member states by a special protocol to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The Commission said today the Slovenian authorities had seized information that included ECB documents and hardware, whereby "the ECB had given no prior authorisation for the seizure of those items, and subsequent attempts by the ECB to resolve the matter amicably have been unsuccessful."

"The unilateral seizure by Slovenia of ECB documents in an investigation about matters under national law at the premises of the Bank of Slovenia constitutes a violation of the inviolability of the archives of the ECB," the Commission's press release reads.

Unofficial sources say that the case is being closely monitored in Brussels as it is an important precedent.

The European Commission is said to be wanting access to the seized documents and information about which documents have been seized, but the Slovenian authorities have failed to cooperate.

The Ministry of Justice said it would be able to respond to the Commission's decision once it received and examined the wording of the lawsuit, of which it had not been notified.

If the EU Court establishes that Slovenia has not fulfilled an obligation as stipulated by Article 260 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the government will take appropriate measures to implement the ruling, the ministry added.

The police raid in which the documents were seized targeted the management of the central bank and their role in the December 2013 bailout, which resulted among other things in the wiping out of holders of junior debt.

As a result of the investigation, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed at the end of December a criminal complaint on suspicion of abuse of office. Unofficially, it has been filed against all individuals who served as board members of the central bank at the time.

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