Bad Bank Defends Operations, Will Act on Audit

7


BAMC chief executive director Torbjörn Mansson argued that his organisation had divergent views to the Court of Audit on many of the findings in the report, but would nevertheless act on the recommendations and prepare a remedial report.

He argued that given the conditions in the "very turbulent year" of 2013, the bad bank had operated prudently and diligently.

The report lacks a broader assessment of the efficiency of BAMC – whether it allowed the country to achieve its goals in bailing out the two leading banks in the country, said Mansson.

"This would be needed for a final assessment – whether the money was used appropriately."

Nevertheless, BAMC is ready to act on the report. "We take the audit…very seriously and as constructive feedback and we will prepare a remedial report as soon as possible," he told the press.

BAMC maintains that it enjoyed suitable legal exemptions to public procurement rules in bringing on contractors, as it responded to one of the key findings of the report.

The bad bank collected competing bids in selecting contractors, but the court Court of Audit ignored this, Mansson said, in responding to the findings that it broke procurement rules.

The chief executive director also maintained that all contracting was efficient and that additional costs were caused by the delay in the transfer of assets.

Moreover, he denied that there may have been services which were paid but not rendered, arguing that it was difficult to specify all the services rendered in detail, such as consultations in day-to-day activities and meetings.

Responding to the Court of Audit's call for the bad bank to make more of its documents public, Mansson said that releasing sensitive information could reduce the value of assets which it is trying to offload.

Meanwhile, Slovenian parties called for suitable remedial measures in responding to the findings of the audit.

While most agree that action must now be taken, they are predictably split on who is to blame and what was the cause of the shortcomings.

The opposition Democrats (SDS), who were in power when laws governing the bad bank were crafted and passed, echoed sentiment from Mansson that the conditions at the time were an important factor affecting operations.

SDS MP Andrej Šireclj, who had acted an non-executive director at BAMC after its establishment, suggested the bad bank was thrown into the fire of helping to rescue Slovenia's banking system.

While not exempt from existing rules, BAMC was subject to a special law governing its operations, which may have influenced some of its actions, Šircelj admitted.

But he said that the pay rules that have also been in the focus of the audit and a recent anti-graft report were adopted by the succeeding government led by Alenka Bratušek.

Bratušek, who heads the Alliance of Alenka Bratušek (ZaAB) in parliament, fired back by assessing that the bulk of responsibility was on the SDS because it had decided to set up the bad bank.

"We had warned already at the time that we doubted the suitability of the bad bank as a means of implementing bank resolution, but we did not have time to change path," the former PM said today.

Other parties meanwhile lined up to call for changes that would bolster transparency at BAMC, reduce pay and establish culpability for irregularities. The coalition Social Democrats (SD) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) called for those responsible to be replaced.

The report contains indications of crimes, highlighted Urška Ban of the ruling SMC party, saying that these needed to be investigated. She said the party was still weighing up whether to call for parliament to launch a probe.

The opposition United Left (ZL) was even more critical, saying that the role of the Finance Ministry must be criticised.

"They bet on the Scandinavians, who are supposed to be honest people, to honestly manage this institutions. But it turned out that they are no better than Slovenian managers," said ZL MP Luka Mesec.

Opposition New Slovenia (NSi) MP Matej Tonin said that the management board should step down in the wake of the findings. He echoed the calls for a parliamentary probe.