The Slovenia Times

Trial starts in NKMB property transactions case


Maribor - Two and a half years after the first pre-trial hearing in a case in which former NKBM bank CEO Matjaž Kovačič and his aides are being tried for property transactions in Croatia in 2006-2007, the main hearing was held at the Maribor court on Wednesday. All four former senior bank officials denied the charges.

The defence, which has so far managed to delay the start of the trial, this time proposed that the trial be merged with the one centring on Croatian citizens, who had been excluded from this case to streamline the procedure, and thus postponed again.

State prosecutor Mojca Petan Žura opposed this, saying the defence was deliberately trying to delay the procedure that will become statute-barred in 2026.

The court is to decide on the potential merging of the cases as the procedure continues.

In presenting the indictment, Petan Žura said that Kovačič and former member of the management Manja Skernišak had abused their office in the property transactions and were assisted by the then CEO of KBM Finek and later KBM Leasing Igor Šujica, who succeeded another defendant, Boris Cekov, at the post.

As members of the loan committee and the supervisory board of the company Multiconsult that was later renamed KBM Projekt they used their influence to have the bank approve eight loans through which the company led by Tomislav Blagus, who excused himself today, financed the purchase of shares in different Croatian special purpose vehicles.

Just before that, the special purpose vehicles had purchased real estate in Croatia, which Multiconsult then paid significantly more for when buying the companies. Thus the defendants reportedly caused more than EUR 25 million in damage to NKBM.

This is the amount of money that was allegedly illegally gained by Croatian owners of the project companies - Vlatka Matić Pivac, Koraljka Slunjski Bočkaj, Kemal Keranović, Vinko Gulin, Janko Šupih Kvaternik and Božo Brdar, who will be tried separately.

All four former NKBM officials denied the accusations. Kovačič said they were mainly victims of political ambitions and a public lynch at a time when the public opinion is strongly against tycoons and bankers.

He finds it problematic that the alleged crimes had not been considered controversial by anyone, including the central bank, until 2012 despite audits, internal inspections and regular inspections by the bank regulator.

Both Kovačič and Skernišak asked what possible motive could they have had to secure millions in gains to people who they do not even know.


More from Economy