Slovenia starts repaying Yugoslav-era savers from Bosnia and Croatia

By bne IntelliNews March 7, 2016

Slovenia has started repaying foreign currency deposits placed at the now-defunct Ljubljanska banka (LB) by savers in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia before the breakup of Yugoslavia. Slovenia expects to repay a total of €385mn to 230,000 people in Croatia and Bosnia, with €685,000 being paid out to 39 Croatian savers in the first round of repayments between March 3 and 14, Slovenian Press Agency (STA) reported on March 5.

Before the breakup of Yugoslavia, numerous people had bank accounts across the region, and many have been waiting to get their deposits back from what are now foreign countries, causing additional tensions in the region. The Slovenian move is likely to contribute to relaxing tensions and improving economic ties among former Yugoslavian countries.

The Slovenian ministry of finance announced a public call for depositors in the two countries to start filing applications to verify their claims in November 2015.

Since December, the Slovenian Succession Fund, which is in charge of the repayment scheme, received more than 15,000 applications from clients of former LB branches in Zagreb and Sarajevo. The savers will be able to file applications until December 31, 2017.

A fund representative told STA that about a half of the applications came from Croatian savers. Meanwhile, the applications lodged by Bosnian savers will be examined only after the fund acquires a relevant database from the Sarajevo LB subsidiary.

The database is to be supplied by Bosnia under a memorandum which the two governments have yet to sign. Slovenia has been unsuccessfully trying to get the database for some time now.

Slovenia has drawn attention to the issue in a letter to the Council of Europe's committee of ministers' deputies in charge of human rights, as the scheme is based on the July 2014 ruling of the European Court of Human Rights and has been cleared by the Council of Europe.

Bosnia also sent a letter to the body, which will convene on March 8, saying that the countries cannot agree on the wording for the memorandum.

Sarajevo also said in the letter that it had already forwarded data on foreign currency savers to Slovenia in July. However, Slovenia's finance ministry said that the database lacked vital identification data, such as passport numbers and birth dates, STA reported.


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