The Slovenia Times

Slovenia replies to EU's suit over central bank investigation


The reply to the lawsuit, filed in April, was sent to the European Court of Justice on Tuesday, within the 3 July deadline, the Justice Ministry said on Wednesday.

Slovenia is accused of having violated the inviolability of ECB archives and of failing to sincerely cooperate with EU authorities in seizing documents during a house search at Banka Slovenije in July 2016 as part of an investigation into Slovenia's 2013 massive bank bailout.

The police investigated Banka Slovenije's leadership over suspicion of wrongdoing in the bailout, which led to the erasure of holders of subordinate bonds and shares.

The police seized the then governor's computer, which the Commission says contained some documents protected as ECB archives.

Slovenia is accused of acting unilaterally in seizing the documents, whereby violating the principle of the inviolability.

It is moreover accused of having failed to constructively discuss the issue with the ECB, as required by the principle of sincere cooperation.

Rejecting both allegations, Slovenia believes the concept of privileges and immunity in international law is defined much more narrowly than interpreted by Brussels.

The country also believes that such a broad interpretation is not in line with the EU's basic values, the rule of law being one of them.

A prosecutor having to ask the ECB's permission to carry out a court-mandated investigation would compromise the persecution and judiciary's independence, according to Slovenia.

The country also maintains that the investigation into Banka Slovenije's national powers, which the Commission does not dispute as such, is no threat to the EU.

As for Slovenia's failure to loyally cooperate, the ministry said the Banka Slovenije leadership had refused to hand over the required documents for more than a year and a half, so the 2016 house search at the central bank was a logical step.

Slovenia also believes a line should be drawn between archives, which are inviolable, and confidential documents, which are just not available to the public.

If all the documents found in Governor BoĊĦtjan Jazbec's computer were archives, then they should have been labelled as such and kept on a special server.

The ministry hopes the back and forth between Slovenia and the Commission will lead to a definition of EU archives in EU law.

As a result of the investigation into the bank bailout, the National Bureau of Investigation has already filed a criminal report against all the member of the Banka Slovenije governing board who ordered bailout measures at the end of 2013, accusing them of abuse of office or rights.


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