21 nov. 2012

ECtHR makes Slovenia liable for Ljubljanska Banka Sarajevo debts of € 175 million, Alisic et al v 5 ex-Yugoslavian States

Before the collapse of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Mr Alisic and Mr Sadzak had foreign currency savings in Ljubljanska Banka Sarajevo (respectively DEM 4 715.56 and DEM 129 874.30, § 7). After the collapse, the savings were frozen (disappeared). The issue raised is who is liable for the debts of Ljubljanska Banka Sarajevo? The Slovenian perspective is to apply the principle of territoriality and to accept all liabilities in all domestic branches of all ex-Yugoslavian banks, but not in the Bosnian branches (§ 36).

In 1990 Ljubljanska Banka Sarajevo became a branch, without legal personality, of Ljubljanska Banka Ljubljana. On 31/12/1991 the amount of foreign-currency savings at the Sarajevo branch was DEM 250 000 000 with a valid annual interest of 12 %. However only DEM 350 000 were present in Sarajevo (§ 21). The Slovenian Government stated that part of the money that came from Sarajevo was forwarded to National Bank of Yugoslavia, and the remaining funds sent back to Bosnia (§ 61). European Court of Human Rights replies that the Slovenian Government failed to provide any proof in that regard, and according to its information from 1984 and 1991 only 17 % of the money was shipped back from Slovenia to Bosnia (§ 11). The Chamber majority writes: “While it is unclear what happened with the remaining sum, it is likely that most of it ended up in Slovenia” (§ 21 and then § 68). 

This means that now Slovenia will have to find € 175 million unless the Grand Chamber will set aside the Chamber judgment on appeal.

It is remarkable that 5 of the ECtHR judges who considered the case were from the former Yugoslavia States. Four of them voted against Slovenia, and the Slovenian one supported his country. Four is already a clear majority in a Chamber of seven.

Serbia is also found liable for other aspects of the same problem, and its debt is about € 60 million.

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