The Slovenia Times

Bad Bank Boss: We Will Not Give in to Political Pressure


Thörbjorn Mannson said it was clear that "BAMC and its employees are under attack", adding that he suspected "this was driven by certain self-interest groups" whose goal it was to "make BAMC a more controlled entity".

While not wanting to delve into who could be behind the leak of a partial anti-graft report, Mannson denied findings that BAMC had spent EUR 12m on consultancy fees last year as "an outright lie".

He assessed that other preliminary findings in an interim anti-graft report which were recently leaked are "negatively biased", but admitted that some of the conclusions were used by the organisation to shore up operations and reduce risk of corruption.

Spending on external consultants and vendors at the bad bank amounted to EUR 5.2m last year, he said, while denying that he had been part of a decision to hire a company he worked for as consultant.

Some of the consultancy costs were also caused by several last-minute changes in the state's bank bailout strategy.

The allegations of high consultancy costs and a risk of a conflict of interest were raised in the report drafted by the Corruption Prevention Commission, the excerpts of which were obtained by the media recently.

As part of finalising the report, all sides implicated have been called on to respond and Mannson said that BAMC did so a fortnight ago.

According to him, the report does not conclude there was corruption at BAMC, although that was the picture being painted with the recent leaks. "You have to ask yourself who leaked it and why."

While admitting differences with the state on certain restructuring cases, he argued that the bank's strategy had been proven right.

In the most high-profile case involving automotive industry supplier Cimos, Mannson maintained that even state officials now admit that the bank took the right course of action by seeking court-mandated debt restructuring.

He said that his primary goal is ensuring independence for BAMC. "We cannot compromise on this," he said, warning that full organisational independence was also important for the ongoing restructuring of Slovenian businesses.

Without true independence, all of the money poured into the bad bank would be classified by the European Commission as state aid, he said.

Mannson also labelled the recent reports of generous remuneration at the bank a part of the broader attack on the bad bank.

Only a handful of staff have monthly salaries above EUR 20,000 gross, he said, reiterating that competitive pay was needed to be able to attract qualified people for handling what is "a challenging task".

The goal for BAMC is repaying the EUR 200m poured in by the state with 8% interest, adding that "as a taxpayer I would hope the [commercial] banks would be able to deliver such results".


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