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Nov 24, 2017 11:34 EEST
November 24 (SeeNews) - A Croatian court has ruled that Slovenia's Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) must pay almost 500,000 euro ($600,000) to Croatia's Zagrebacka banka in compensation over Yugoslav-era savings deposits, Slovenia's finance ministry said.
"Slovenia expresses its concern and dissatisfaction with Croatia's violation of international obligations," the finance ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
It also invoked an agreement signed in 2013 which said that NLB deposit cases would be solved as part of the Yugoslavia succession treaty of 2001 which regulates rights and obligations of successor states to the former Yugoslav federation.
"Its (Croatia's) goal is to prevent the stay of court proceedings until the issue of succession is resolved, which is without doubt contrary to the agreement signed between the two countries," the finance ministry commented on the ruling issued by the Zagreb municipal court .
NLB had been taken to court in Croatia over the deposits repaid to the bank's former customers in Croatia by Croatian banks. The deposits became Croatia's public debt, which the country then decided to seek compensation for in court.
Most of the deposit holders were repaid by Zagrebacka banka (Zaba) and Privredna banka Zagreb (PBZ), both of which have launched court proceedings against NLB.
Slovenia is now asking its neighbour to terminate all lawsuits.
The Slovenian finance ministry added that the latest ruling is contrary to international law as a first instance ruling by the same court dismissed Zaba's suit. The ministry further argued that Croatia is not respecting its 1994 constitutional law which separated the liabilities and assets of NLB and its Croatian unit.
Earlier this month, Slovenia proposed to the European Commission to keep its stake in NLB, and have the bank pay a compensation for the 2013 state aid provided to it.
Although Slovenia committed to the EU to sell the bank by the end of 2017, in return for state aid the bank received in 2013, Slovenia has been arguing it would be unable to secure the best possible price due to lawsuits launched in Croatia.
This situation would drag down the price of the bank, the Slovenian government has argued.
The EU and Slovenia are yet to reach a definite agreement.
NLB has been 100% state-owned since 2013, when the Slovenian government stepped in to recapitalise it and two other lenders - NKBM and Abanka, narrowly avoiding an international bailout.
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