Pravda, 27.4.2013 EN


Slovakia could lose assets in several countries

pk, Pravda | 27.05.2013 12:00

The Luxembourg court has frozen Slovakia's accounts with funds worth nearly 30 million euros, and it does not seem likely the verdict will be reversed. This is the result of a convention signed by Czechoslovakia in 1958. Because of its terms, Achmea can seek the money in other countries that have signed the convention.

The owner of the health insurance company Union, Achmea can seize assets in other countries.
Author: Robert Huettner, Pravda

The convention is a result of the United Nations conference and has been signed by 150 countries. Attorney at law Radovan Pala claims a withdrawal can be finalized in any country where Slovakia owns assets, providing that the country has signed the convention as well.  "But in each of these countries, Achmea will first have to file for validation of the final verdict before they can proceed with obtaining the funds."

The insurance company apparently chose Luxembourg because of its laws, which make aquiring assets easier. However, according to Pala, similar results can be expected in other countries. "The member countries of the convention cannot increase the reasons they have to question the legitimacy of a verdict made in a foreign country. Governments that emphasize the quick execution of laws, just add further reasons for opposing the legitimacy of foreign verdicts." He attributes these laws to an attempt at avoiding unreasonable obstructions.

The Finance Ministry refuses to name the countries where Slovakia has assets. They added that this is for the safety of citizens and the government.

The government has defended itself from a finalization of the verdict by requesting an annulment at the court in Germany, which had just decided in favor of the insurance company in December. According to the verdict, 22 million Euro are to be transfered to the insurance company, as well as three million for legal costs and 50 thousand interest every month. The government claims that the dispute regarding the ban of profits was unjustly decided by the arbitral tribunal, and should have been judged by the European Court in Luxembourg instead.

Attorney-at-law Jana Martinkova reminds us that until Slovakia succeeds in a reversal of the verdict, nothing changes about its legal validity. It is unlikely that the government will win this case, since they have not yet managed to halt the execution of the verdict. Achmea has the full legal right to withdraw these funds.

If a reversal of the verdict is achieved after the funds have been withdrawn, Slovakia could request the funds to be returned on the basis of unjust enrichment. But If the levy is not paid to Achmea, the amount will increase."

The Finance Ministry has stated that the government does not require the frozen funds at this moment. However, a problem would arise if the funds are withdrawn.

Slovakia has a further dispute with Achmea. In February, the Dutch shareholders announced an arbitration regarding the reappropriation of private health insurance companies, which they assert is a breach of existing agreements.

Attorney at law Jana Martinkova (Advocatus Martinkova Ltd.) Lawyer, Achmea, Ministry of finance, Health insurance company UNION